New FTC guide helps make sense of eco claims


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The term “green” has made its way onto so many products that it has almost lost its meaning. Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission has stepped in to offer a better way for manufacturers to make accurate claims about their products, ensuring that we consumers know exactly what we are buying.

With the help of hundreds of consumers like you and me, along with industry folks, the FTC has revised its “Green Guides”  to help marketers make sure that the environmental claims of their products are both truthful and not deceptive.

Among the biggest changes to the guidelines is urging marketers not to make such broad claims on their products as “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly.” Claims like these are hard to substantiate and may suggest that these products have more environmental benefits than they actually do.
In addition, the FTC cautions marketers against making claims about a product’s ability to degrade and to take into account that items destined for landfills, incinerators or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year. It also advises that claims about compostability and recyclability be clear and easy for the rest of us to understand.

It is important to remember that these “Green Guides” are just that guides, and you will likely come across so-called “green” products with confusing or even false labeling. If buying eco-friendly products is a priority for you, then be sure to check out the FTC’s guide to shopping green.