The Federal Trade Commission has amended its Appliance Labeling Rule to allow appliance manufacturers to place energy use labels required by the Canadian and Mexican governments "directly adjoining" the rule's required EnergyGuide label. The rule previously prohibited placing non-required information "on or directly adjoining" the EnergyGuide. Under the amended rule, manufacturers will still be prohibited from placing other information on or next to the EnergyGuide. By relaxing this prohibition, the FTC is furthering the goal of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to harmonize the standards-related measures of the signatories to facilitate trade among the parties. The amended rule will be published in the June 28 Federal Register, and will become effective on the date of publication.
The FTC's Appliance Labeling Rule, in effect since 1980, is designed to help consumers comparison shop for energy-efficient appliances. Among other things, it requires manufacturers to attach, to most major home appliances, "EnergyGuide" labels that provide an estimate of the product's annual energy consumption or energy efficiency. In July 1994, the FTC amended the rule in several respects, including changes to simplify the EnergyGuide and make it easier for consumers to use.
Today's announcement follows the FTC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) seeking comments on a July 1995 petition filed by Whirlpool Corporation. Whirlpool asked the FTC for permission to use hang tag EnergyGuide labels with the corresponding appliance energy use labels required by Canada (called "EnerGuides") printed on the reverse side and to use a single, one-sided label showing the EnergyGuide next to or above the Canadian EnerGuide and/or the energy use label required by Mexico. Noting that the existence of separate appliance labeling requirements among the USA, Canada and Mexico represents an obstacle to free trade among the signatories to NAFTA, Whirlpool stated that substantial progress has nevertheless been made in the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian energy standards, test procedures, energy use descriptors, product classes, and safety codes. Whirlpool also suggested that consolidation of the three countries' labels onto a single sheet of label stock would be another significant step towards free trade in the appliance manufacturing sector. The FTC's NPR addressed the question of whether this type of labeling would confuse consumers.
After analyzing the four comments received, the FTC concluded that placement of Canadian and/or Mexican energy use labels next to the EnergyGuide would not detract from the Commission's label and would not confuse consumers.
The Commission vote to publish the amended the Appliance Rule in the Federal Register was 5-0.
Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC Matter No. R611004)