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Jan 31 -- FTC extends comment period to April 24, 2023. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2023/01/federal-trade-commission-extends-public-comment-period-potential-updates-its-green-guides-use

1) Dec 14 [press release] -- The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it is seeking public comment on potential updates and changes to the Green Guides for the Use of Environmental Claims. The Commission’s Green Guides help marketers avoid making environmental marketing claims that are unfair or deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act. The Commission seeks to update the guides based on increasing consumer interest in buying environmentally friendly products.

The Green Guides were first issued in 1992 and were revised in 1996, 1998, and 2012. They provide guidance on environmental marketing claims, including how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims to avoid deceiving consumers.

The FTC is requesting general comments on the continuing need for the guides, their economic impact, their effect on the accuracy of various environmental claims, and their interaction with other environmental marketing regulations. The Commission also seeks information on consumer perception evidence of environmental claims, including those not in the guides currently.

Specific issues on which the FTC expects to get many public comments include:

Carbon Offsets and Climate Change: The current Guides provide guidance on carbon offset and renewable energy claims. The Commission invites comments on whether the revised Guides should provide additional information on related claims and issues.

The Term “Recyclable:” Among other things, the FTC seeks comments on whether it should change the current threshold that guides marketers on when they can make unqualified recyclable claims, as well as whether the Guides should address in more detail claims for products that are collected (picked up curbside) by recycling programs but not ultimately recycled.

The Term “Recycled Content:” Comments are requested on whether unqualified claims about recycled content – particularly claims related to “pre-consumer” and “post industrial” content – are widely understood by consumers, as well as whether alternative methods of substantiating recycled content claims may be appropriate; and

The Need for Additional Guidance: The Commission also seeks comment on the need for additional guidance regarding claims such as “compostable,” “degradable,” ozone-friendly,” “organic,” and “sustainable, as well as those regarding energy use and energy efficiency.
A list of recent cases brought relating to topics covered by the guides can be found on the FTC’s website.

The Commission vote approving the publication of a Federal Register notice announcing the opening of the public comment period was 4-0, with Chair Lina M. Khan issuing a separate statement.
 
Press release: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2022/12/ftc-seeks-public-comment-potential-updates-its-green-guides-use-environmental-marketing-claims

2) Dec 20 -- FRN: Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims

Pursuant to its decennial regulatory review schedule, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) requests public comment on its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (“Green Guides” or “Guides”). The Commission is soliciting comments about the efficiency, costs, benefits, and regulatory impact of the Guides to determine whether to retain, modify, or rescind them. All interested persons are hereby given notice of the opportunity to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the Guides. Comments must be received on or before February 21, 2023.
 
First issued in 1992 and most recently revised in 2012, the Commission's Guides for Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, 16 CFR part 260 (“Green Guides” or the “Guides”), address the applicability of section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a) (“section 5”) to environmental advertising and labeling claims. The Green Guides outline general principles applicable to all environmental marketing claims, and provide specific guidance regarding many common environmental benefit claims. For each claim covered, the Guides: (1) explain how reasonable consumers likely interpret it; (2) describe the basic elements necessary to substantiate it; and (3) present options for qualifications to avoid deception.

Although the illustrative qualifications provide examples for marketers seeking to make non-deceptive claims, they do not represent the only permissible approaches. As administrative interpretations of the law, the Guides themselves are not enforceable. In any enforcement action, the Commission must prove the challenged act or practice is unfair or deceptive in violation of section 5.

The Commission reviews all of its rules and guides periodically to: (1) examine their efficacy, costs, and benefits; and (2) determine whether to retain, modify, or rescind them. The Commission completed its most recent Green Guides review a decade ago (77 FR 62122 (Oct. 11, 2012)). With the present document, the Commission commences a new review.

The Commission seeks comment on several general issues, which are addressed in section III.A. of this document, including the continuing need for the Guides, their economic impact, and their effect on the accuracy of various environmental claims. section III.A. also seeks comment on the Guides' interaction with other environmental marketing regulations, and whether the Commission should consider rulemaking to establish independently enforceable requirements related to unfair and deceptive environmental claims. Since the Commission's 2012 revisions, increased attention to environmental concerns, including climate change and issues driven by the COVID-19 public health crisis, have likely encouraged continued environmental claims related to various products, packaging, services, and manufacturing processes. The Commission notes the proliferation of environmental benefit claims includes claims not currently addressed in the Guides. Accordingly, this review is important to ensure the Guides reflect changes in the marketplace over time.

The Commission also seeks to ensure the Guides appropriately respond to changes in consumer perception. As the Commission recognized in 1992, science and technology in the environmental area change constantly, and new developments might affect consumer perception. Thus, in section III.B., the Commission solicits specific consumer survey evidence and consumer perception data addressing environmental claims, including claims not currently covered by the Guides.

The Commission requests written comment on the following questions, including whether the Commission should initiate a proceeding to consider a rulemaking relating to environmental benefit claims under its FTC Act authority. . . .
  
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-27558

3) Public Workshop Examining Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims -- May 23, 2023
 
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) plans to host a public workshop on May 23, 2023, to examine “recyclable” advertising claims. The workshop is a component of the Commission's recently announced regulatory review of the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.

The public workshop will be held on May 23, 2023, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET at the Constitution Center (first floor conference rooms), 400 Seventh St. SW, Washington, DC 20024. The workshop will also be available for viewing via live webcast at https://www.ftc.gov/​news-events/​events/​2023/​05/​talking-trash-ftc-recyclable-claims-green-guides. Any written comments related to the issues discussed at the workshop must be received by June 13, 2023.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-04589

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