The Federal Trade Commission will hold a public workshop on December 7 and 8 to discuss "green" advertising and labeling, and how well its guides on environmental claims have been working. Environmental claims on supermarket products have increased by more than 14 percent since the guides were issued in 1992, according to one academic study. The workshop will examine whether there are changes in consumer understanding and advances in environmental technology that necessitate revising the guides, which seek to prevent the false and misleading use of advertising terms such as environmentally safe, recyclable, degradable and ozone-friendly. The event is open to the public and the media, and will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days in Room 432 of the FTC headquarters building, 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C.
More than 40 representatives from industry, environmental groups, federal and state government agencies and academia will take part in the workshop. There also will be an opportunity for public participation. Issues to be discussed include whether any changes should be made to the guides' current position on recyclable and recycled content claims, and whether additional "green" advertising terms should be addressed in the guides. An agenda listing subjects for discussion and participants is attached.
This conference follows an FTC call for public comments on the guides, and the topics to be discussed reflect issues raised in the written comments. In the notice seeking comment, the Commission noted that since the guides were issued, it had received a University of Utah study suggesting that the total number of environmental marketing claims had increased. The data, which cover supermarket products, also suggest that certain deceptive environmental claims that were of concern at the time the guides were adopted are less prevalent, and that manufacturers are qualifying claims about recycled content and source reduction more frequently.
After the conference, the FTC staff will make recommendations to the Commission regarding whether the guidelines should be modified, and if so, how. The recommendations will be based on the written comments and the discussions at the workshop. The Commission will consider whether any changes should be made after receiving the recommendations.
Copies of the public comments on the FTC's Environmental Marketing Guidelines are available on the internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at http://www.ftc.gov (no final period). The guides themselves and other materials are also available at the FTC's Web site. A transcript of the workshop proceedings will be made available at this site following the conclusion of the workshop. All the materials are also available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 260-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261.