ftc green guides - is this your opportunity?

february 25th, 2011 | posted by admin | causes, sustainability


As the FTC works through their final revisions to the Green Guides, there is a great opportunity for your company to not only stand out from the competition, but to form a more solid and loyal relationship with your customers.

The FTC Green Guides are intended to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims, and at the same time help the consumer have a clear understanding of what a claim means. Environmental claims such as “green”, “eco-friendly” or “environmentally-friendly” are just too general. They lack clarity, and in the past have not been substantiated. Enter the knowledgeable and savvy consumer who actually wants to know what commonly used terms such as “green” and “sustainable” really mean. And enter the era of company transparency–the opportunity for you to connect with your customers in a new way, building a relationship of authenticity, trust and loyalty.

In October 2010, the FTC proposed to revise their Green Guides for the first time in 10 years. Initially issued in 1992, the Green Guides were revised again in 1996 and last revised in 1998. With the proliferation of sustainable initiatives and environmental claims, the revisions are badly needed.

Currently the FTC is in the process of reviewing public comments and making final revisions to the guides. These updates are designed to make it easier for companies to understand and utilize them. Included in these updates are guidance on the use of certifications and seals of approval, “renewable energy” claims, “renewable materials” claims, and “carbon offset” claims. Other proposed changes will give guidance on how to qualify claims such as “green” or “eco-friendly” and how “recyclable” and “compostable” can be utilized. Even with these updates, there are still areas that are not included and will need to be addressed in the future such as guidance on claims regarding a product’s life cycle or hidden trade offs.

What does all this really mean to you? It means more clarity in how to make accurate environmental claims on your packaging and your collateral as you comply with the new rules. It also translates into new opportunities. This is an ideal time to amp up your package design efforts. It is also an incredible opportunity for your company to form closer ties with your customers by communicating what you are doing to help the planet. Not just on your packaging, but also through your website and social media efforts. How can you take advantage of these opportunities?

  • Utilize the FTC guides to help the consumer understand your message
  • Consider cost-saving sustainable options for your packaging
  • Ensure that your brand message is conveyed on your package to the consumer
  • Utilize “Creative + results”–a successful approach to differentiating your package in the marketplace
  • Utilize your website and social media efforts to reinforce your sustainability message

“Opportunities are never lost; someone will take the one you miss.”  ~Author Unknown

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