News Analysis

FTC Cracks Down on Greenwashing

Is it the end of greenwashing? Not quite. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed changes to Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides) that would make greenwashing more difficult. The Green Guides interpret laws governing such claims; the proposed changes would offer new guidance and strengthen existing guidelines. The proposal omits some key terms—“sustainable,” “natural,” and “organic”—that FTC does not have the authority or the information to regulate. Along with new additions and revisions, the Green Guides have also been reorganized and simplified so they are easier to understand and use.

The Green Guides detail appropriate use of product certifications and seals of approval; carbon offset claims; and the word “renewable” in conjunction with energy or material claims. According to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, “The proposed updates to the Green Guides will help businesses better align their product claims with consumer expectations.” A consumer study, along with public workshops, found that, for most consumers, the terms “environmentally friendly” and “eco-friendly” implied “far-reaching environmental benefits” that may not exist. The Green Guides caution against using such blanket claims, since consumers would likely interpret them as having broader or more meaningful implications than could be substantiated.

Published November 21, 2010

Emily, C. (2010, November 21). FTC Cracks Down on Greenwashing. Retrieved from