FTC Proposes Revised “Green Guides”
The Federal Trade Commission recently announced proposed revisions to
its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. Jon Leibowitz,
chairman of the FTC, says the “Green Guides,” which were last revised
in 1998, are designed to help businesses avoid making misleading environmental
claims and that also helps consumers.
FTC spokesperson Mitchell Katz told DWM magazine that the Green Guides
are not just for companies marketing to the final end user of the product,
but also companies marketing to other companies that will be buying and
using the products.
There are several new components on environmental claims within the proposed
“When the guides were last revised many environmental claims we see in
the market today didn’t even exist,” says FTC commissioner Julie Brill.
“Our proposed guides address three of the most popular new types of claims.”
These three new claims are:
• “Made with renewable materials.” According to the FTC’s proposal “marketers
should qualify claims with specific information about the renewable material
(what it is; how it is sourced; why it is renewable), and should qualify
renewable materials claims if the item is not made entirely with renewable
materials (excluding minor, incidental components);
• “Made with renewable energy.” The FTC says marketers should not make
unqualified renewable energy claims if the power used to manufacture any
part of the product was derived from fossil fuels. They should also qualify
claims by specifying the source of renewable energy (e.g., wind or solar).
Additionally, marketers should qualify claims if less than all, or virtually
all, of the significant manufacturing processes involved in making the
product/package were powered with renewable energy or conventional energy
offset by renewable energy certificates (RECs). In addition, marketers
that generate renewable energy (e.g., by using solar panels), but sell
RECs for all of the renewable energy they generate, should not represent
that they use renewable energy; and
• “Carbon offsets.” According to the FTC, marketers should have competent
and reliable scientific evidence to support their carbon offset claims,
including using appropriate accounting methods to ensure they are properly
quantifying emission reductions and are not selling those reductions more
than once. Marketers should disclose if the offset purchase funds emission
reductions will not occur for two years or longer and they should not
advertise a carbon offset if the activity that forms the basis of the
offset is already required by law.
A summary of the proposed revised guides is available on the FTC’s website,
Windows Not Part of Initial Top-Tier Energy Star®
Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun work on its
top-tier Energy Star program, windows are not part of the initial program.
The program is being developed “to drive more energy-efficient products
into the market more quickly,” according to a statement from the EPA and
the Department of Energy.
The initial list for the program includes the following product categories:
clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, televisions, central air
conditioners and heating equipment.
“The initial product categories listed in the proposal are ones that are
relatively easy to test for energy performance, have a clear performance
ranking already in place and have an energy performance ranking that is
not climate-dependant,” says EPA representative Doug Anderson.
While he adds that EPA may consider a top-tier program for doors, windows
and skylights in the future, it is not currently in the works.
“EPA’s focus now is on the next specification revision for windows, doors
and skylights,” says Anderson. “We have publicly stated that we plan to
release preliminary criteria for a new specification on windows, doors
and skylights for stakeholder comment in August of 2011. Manufacturers
who wish to participate in a high-performance window program right now
should consider DOE’s R-5 Volume Windows Program.”
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