The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released proposed revisions to guidelines that would try to reign in "greenwashing" environmental claims by marketers.
The changes to the “Green Guides” include new guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, “renewable energy” claims, “renewable materials” claims, and “carbon offset” claims.
The revised Guides caution marketers not to make blanket, general claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits. Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.
The Guides also advise marketers how consumers are likely to understand certain environmental claims, including that a product is degradable, compostable, or “free of” a particular substance. For example, if a marketer claims that a product that is thrown in the trash is “degradable,” it should decompose in a “reasonably short period of time” – no more than one year.
The FTC also wants to include guidance on the use of the terms “renewable materials” and “renewable energy” for the first time. FTC says marketers should not make unqualified renewable energy claims if the power used to manufacture any part of the product was derived from fossil fuels.
The creators of the Greenwashing Index welcomed the long-awaited revisions to the Federal Trade Commission’s green advertising guidelines but warned the government not to expect meek compliance from advertisers.
“The good news is this could be the end of nonsensical claims like ‘clean coal,’” said EnviroMedia cofounder Kevin Tuerff. “The bad news is the new FTC Green Guides do not address more complicated terms like ‘sustainable.’”
The FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed changes until December 10, 2010, after which it will decide which changes to make final.
Salazar Signs Lease for Cape Wind
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Cape Wind Associates, LLC today signed the nation’s first lease for commercial wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The project--located in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts, received final approval earlier this year, after eight years in the permitting process, which was opposed by local groups, who have filed a law suit in an effort to overturn the approval.
The 28-year lease for the area off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. will cost the company $88,278 in annual rent prior to production, and a 2 to 7 percent operating fee during production. The fee is based on revenues from selling the offshore wind energy in regional markets.
The 25-square-mile project site is about 5 miles from the mainland shoreline, 13 miles from Nantucket Island, and 9 miles from Martha’s Vineyard.
GHG Reporting Rules Released
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a guidance document establishing Government-wide requirements for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with Federal agency operations.
The Guidance serves as the Federal Government’s official Greenhouse Gas Protocol and will be used by Federal agencies to develop their first GHG inventories.
Federal agencies will submit GHG inventories annually beginning in January of 2011, as called for in an Executive Order signed by President Obama in October 2009.
“For the first time, this guidance sets consistent standards and requirements for measuring and reporting the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The Guidance was announced by Chair Sutley at the first GreenGov Symposium, a three-day event held by CEQ from October 5-7, 2010, in Washington, D.C., that brought together a broad group of sustainability leaders to identify opportunities around greening the Federal Government.