Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on January 31, 2023, that it has extended the deadline for public comment on its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides) to April 24, 2023. FTC states in its December 14, 2022, news release that it seeks to update the Green Guides “based on increasing consumer interest in buying environmentally friendly products.” FTC expects “many public comments” on the following specific issues:

  • Carbon Offsets and Climate Change: The current Green Guides provide guidance on carbon offset and renewable energy claims. FTC invites comments on whether the revised Green Guides should provide additional information on related claims and issues;
     
  • The Term “Recyclable”: Among other things, FTC seeks comments on whether it should change the current threshold that guides marketers on when they can make unqualified recyclable claims, as well as whether the Green Guides should address in more detail claims for products that are collected (picked up curbside) by recycling programs but not ultimately recycled;
     
  • The Term “Recycled Content”: FTC requests comments on whether unqualified claims about recycled content -- particularly claims related to “pre-consumer” and “post industrial” content -- are widely understood by consumers, as well as whether alternative methods of substantiating recycled content claims may be appropriate; and
     
  • The Need for Additional Guidance: FTC also seeks comment on the need for additional guidance regarding claims such as “compostable,” “degradable,” “ozone-friendly,” “organic,” and “sustainable,” as well as those regarding energy use and energy efficiency.

More information and an insightful commentary are available in our December 16, 2022, memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On December 20, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requested public comment on its Guides for the Use of Environmental Claims (Green Guides). FTC intends the Green Guides to help marketers avoid making environmental marketing claims that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act. 87 Fed. Reg. 77766. FTC states in its December 14, 2022, news release that it seeks to update the Green Guides “based on increasing consumer interest in buying environmentally friendly products.” As noted in our December 16, 2022, memorandum, publication of the notice in the Federal Register began a 60-day comment period. Comments are due February 21, 2023.
 
FTC states that it expects “many public comments” on the following specific issues:

  • Carbon Offsets and Climate Change: The current Green Guides provide guidance on carbon offset and renewable energy claims. FTC invites comments on whether the revised Green Guides should provide additional information on related claims and issues;
     
  • The Term “Recyclable”: Among other things, FTC seeks comments on whether it should change the current threshold that guides marketers on when they can make unqualified recyclable claims, as well as whether the Green Guides should address in more detail claims for products that are collected (picked up curbside) by recycling programs but not ultimately recycled;
     
  • The Term “Recycled Content”: FTC requests comments on whether unqualified claims about recycled content -- particularly claims related to “pre-consumer” and “post industrial” content -- are widely understood by consumers, as well as whether alternative methods of substantiating recycled content claims may be appropriate; and
     
  • The Need for Additional Guidance: FTC also seeks comment on the need for additional guidance regarding claims such as “compostable,” “degradable,” ozone-friendly,” “organic,” and “sustainable,” as well as those regarding energy use and energy efficiency.

More information and an insightful commentary are available in our December 16, 2022, memorandum.


 

On April 1, 2016, The Plastics Industry Trade Association's SPI Bioplastics Division released a new report explaining and defining bioplastics. The report, Bioplastics Simplified: Attributes of Biobased and Biodegradable Products, educates consumers on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides), and what this means in terms of claims that companies make about the origin and degradability of their products. The report discusses the difference between partially and fully biobased or biodegradable plastics, and discusses the environmental benefits of each type. Current industry progress and goals are also covered, from the current 30 percent bioplastic based PlantBottle™ developed by the Coca-Cola Company, to the eventual goal of a 100 percent biobased bottle.


 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced in a September 14, 2015, press release, "FTC Sends Warning Letters about Green Certification Seals," that it sent warning letters to five providers of environmental certification seals and 32 businesses using those seals, "alerting them to the agency's concerns that the seals could be considered deceptive and may not comply with the FTC's environmental marketing guidelines." FTC states that environmental certification seals are intended to help consumers tell whether a product has the environmental attributes it claims. FTC cautions that environmental seals "can inadvertently deceive consumers by conveying more than a marketer intends." FTC's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides) include guidance intended to help marketers avoid this issue. More information regarding the press release is available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.'s (B&C®) memorandum FTC Green Guides: FTC Sends Warning Letters Concerning Environmental Certification Seals.