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Industrial Scrubber Firms at War over Green Marketing

Kärcher, a manufacturer of industrial floor scrubbers, has filed two suits and one complaint over green marketing claims by U.S.-based rival Tennant, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Kärcher filed civil suits in Germany and Belgium and made a complaint to the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority over Tennant’s claims that its “active water” technology cleans better than traditional cleaning chemicals, while saving money and reducing environmental impacts.

Tennant says that its ec-H2O scrubbers oxygenate water and apply an electric current to create a blend of positively and negatively charged water molecules. This breaks dirt into small particles, without the need for cleaners, Tennant says.

But Kärcher says this “active water” works no better than regular tap water. The ASA is now investigating.

Tennant stands by its claims. The company says that a third-party study by consulting firm EcoForm found that ec-H2O technology substantially reduces environmental impacts in seven key categories. Ec-H20 scrubber-dryers can scrub three times longer with a single tank of water, using 70 percent less water than conventional floor scrubbing methods, the company says.

Ec-H20 scrubbers are in use at Adobe, the University of Washington and TCI Industrial, among other organizations.

U.S. companies looking for guidance on green marketing claims are still awaiting the final revisions to the FTC Green Guides, ten months after the comment period for the draft revisions ended. According to Christopher Cole, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, agency officials have admitted that the 300 or so comments they received raised some serious issues that the FTC must address.

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