FTC Announces Workshop on 'Green Guides' and Environmental Claims for Building and Textiles

Third Public Workshop in Series Scheduled for July 15, 2008, in Washington, DC

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission today announced the third in a series of public workshops being held as part of the agency’s regulatory review of the “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims,” commonly known as the Green Guides.

The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Washington, DC, on July 15, 2008, to examine developments in environmental claims for building and textiles and the consumer perception of such claims. The Commission’s first Green Guides workshop, held in January, examined issues concerning the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. The most recent workshop, held in April, examined green packaging claims.

Since the Green Guides were last reviewed in 1998, green claims have increased dramatically, and this trend has been particularly prevalent in the marketing of green building and textiles. In the textile arena, there has been an increase in the use of environmental claims to sell products made from organic cotton and bamboo fiber. In the building market, green claims are prevalent for a wide range of building products, including flooring, carpeting, paint, wallpaper, insulation, and windows. In addition, builders are making claims that the buildings or homes they construct are green. There also has been an increase in the number of environmental seals and third-party certification programs purporting to verify the positive environment impact of textiles, building materials, and buildings.

The FTC’s July workshop will provide an opportunity for interested parties to study green textile and building claims. Specifically, topics for the workshop will include: 1) consumer perception of environmental claims for buildings and textile products; 2) the state of substantiation for green building and textile claims; and 3) the need for additional or updated FTC guidance in these areas.

Logistics

The FTC Green Guides Workshop on Green Building and Textiles will be held from 9 am until 5 pm at the FTC’s satellite building conference center, located at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. A government-issued photo ID is required for entry. Pre-registration is not required. Members of the public and press who cannot attend can view a live webcast of the workshop on the FTC’s Web site.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Requests for such accommodations should be submitted via e-mail to jplonowski@ftc.gov
or by calling Julia Plonowski at 202-326-2289. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and a way to contact you if we need more information. Please provide advance notice.

For more information on the July workshop, including the Federal Register notice, how to file comments, directions to the conference center, and other relevant information, please visit: www.ftc.gov/bcp/workshops/buildingandtextiles/index.shtml. Comments to inform discussion at the workshop must be received by July 1, 2008. All comments in response to the Federal Register notice must be submitted no later than August 15, 2008. The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice announcing the workshop and soliciting electronic and written comments was 4-0.

The FTC’s Green Guides Review

The Green Guides outline general principles for all environmental marketing claims and provide specific guidance about certain green claims. In a Federal Register notice issued in November 2007, the Commission solicited comments relating to its regulatory review of the Green Guides, including responses to standard questions about costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the Green Guides, and on specific topics, among them “sustainable” and “renewable” claims.

As part of the Green Guides review, the FTC is holding a series of workshops on a number of green marketing topics. The first workshop, on January 8, 2008, addressed the marketing of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates. The second workshop, on April 30, 2008, examined issues surrounding environmental packaging claims. While the review of the Green Guides was scheduled to begin in 2009, because of the current proliferation in green marketing claims, the Commission began the review a year early to ensure they reflect today’s marketplace.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.

Contact Information

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mitchell J. Katz,
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161
STAFF CONTACTS:
Robin Rosen Spector
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3740

Janice Podoll Frankle
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3022