The FTC Wants Your Opinion on Green Labeling

The Federal Trade Commission works to prevent misleading and unfair business practices and to provide information for consumers to help identify, stop, and avoid them. This includes the regulation of products bandying about ecologically sustainable claims such as “organic” and “locally sourced.” The FTC’s Green Guides (established in 1992 and reworked in 1996 and 1998) offer a rough outline of conditions that justify these terms.

In light of heightened consumer demand for sustainable products, the Commission voted 5-0 on a proposal last week to revise the terms of the Green Guides. The revisions basically call for marketers to be more specific in their environmental claims, since the FTC found that consumers had differing perceptions of what these claims mean. Under the new guidelines, use of vague, blanket terms such as “eco-friendly,” as well as use of unqualified certifications or seals of approval, will be considered misleading. In addition, standards will be put in place to qualify specific marketing terms. For example, for a product to be labeled “biodegradable,” it must break down completely within a year from disposal (previously, the Guides vaguely suggested “within a reasonably short time”).

LED Waves applauds these strides made by the FTC, which are in line with their recent, highly publicized lawsuit against LED light bulb sellers Lights of America, as well as the “Lighting Facts” labels that will soon be de rigueur on all lamps sold in the US. Call us Green bandwagon hoppers, but since we stand by the quality and energy efficiency of our LED lights, we’re in favor of making sure that everyone else on the bandwagon deserves to be there, too. The FTC is currently soliciting comments from the public on further revisions to the Green Guides. Comments will be closed on December 10th.

Have you been confused or misled by products labeled “green” in any way? Check out their Green Guides Proposal (summarized version here) and submit your opinions at

FTC building photo courtesy of dbking via Flickr Creative Commons