Today the Federal Trade Commission announced plans to crack down on environmental claims made by manufacturers. The revised "Green Guides" now warns manufacturers about the consequences of using labels that make broad, unsubstantiated claims (like "eco-friendly"). This is a direct response to consumers demanding for clearer and more legitimate eco-labeling, especially in the face of the whopping 349 seals and certifications that are currently used worldwide for eco labeling. No wonder we've been confused!
The New York Times delves into the new development:
The commission has dedicated a new section in the guides specifically to handling issues surrounding certifications and seals of approval. Companies will be obliged to tell customers if the seals they use are certified by their own companies as opposed to being certified by a third party. Companies that are members of a trade organization that certifies their product must disclose that relationship to the consumer.
The new rules call on seals and certifications that connote general environmental claims to be more specific. A company would have to use a label like "Green Smart, Recyclable Certified" instead of just "Green Smart," for example. And companies that use third-party certifications will also have to make sure they substantiate the claims they make.
The new guidelines also introduced specific parameters that companies must follow if they make a specific claim. For example, products that are labeled as degradable must decompose within a year, and those that are labeled compostable must break down in the same time as the materials they were made with. Claims about renewable materials must also detail from where the materials are sourced and whether or not the item is made entirely by renewable materials, or just in part.
Read more: The New York Times.
(Image: TreeHugger via Re-Nest)