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FTC Proposes New Guidelines for Green Marketing Terms

Note: The original inspiration and many quotes for this blog was taken from Greenerprinter's blog post here. Fireclay is a consumer of Greenerprinter products, namely business cards and some marketing materials, and we have great respect for their business.

"Big news: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently released recommendations for revised guidelines on green marketing claims. This development has important implications for both online and print marketing materials, and is intended to “prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace” when properly implemented.

Perhaps the most significant change to the existing guidelines is the FTC’s advice to marketers not to use general terms such as “environmentally friendly” and “eco-friendly.” The FTC is also proposing guidance on marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval, claims for renewable energy.

Read more specifics on the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, a section by section breakdown with examples on appropriate use of marketing terms, here and here.

According to Environmental Leader, a quality online resource for green business news, the FTC has already brought to light seven environmental advertising enforcement actions under the Obama administration – including actions against Kmart Corp., Tender Corp. and Dyna-E International – for making false and unsubstantiated claims. In the case of these three national companies, they had made misleading claims that their paper products were biodegradable (all products, in fact, will biodegrade given enough time).

According to the Ecolabel Index, there are currently 349 seals and certifications for marketing green products in 213 countries worldwide. It’s not surprising then that the FTC has chosen to take on the gargantuan duty of tightening up America’s own regulations. These regulations are forcing green businesses to be aware of both current and proposed guidelines, and through them deepen their marketing messages by substantiating and specifying their green efforts, whenever mentioned in their marketing effors.

It is unclear how the FTC will be enforcing the new guidelines against small businesses, but it is always a prudent idea to follow marketing guidelines no matter what stage your business is in." - Greenerprinter.com

Fireclay Tile is a small company that does not have the pleasure of large marketing budgets that can outweigh or cover up our actual sustainabiltiy and environmental efforts. Similarly, we don't have numerous certifications or guarantees, but rather value transparency and hard work to ensure what we are doing makes the most sense for our customers and our environment. Thus, we make every attempt fully disclose everything that we do, and we do this with pages outlining our sustainability efforts or detailed videos highlighting our manufacturing or how we incorporate recycled materials into our products.

Some of the key things that we do for which we are proud are as follows:

- Manufacture our materials here in the USA

- Incorporate both post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled materials into many of our products. Unlike many of our competitors, these materials are always sourced from other places, and we never count our own manufacturing waste into our %'s. Furthermore, we use all locally sourced recycled materials. The VAST majority of what people call "recycled" tile these days are produced in China, Spain, Germany, and other locations, especially when it comes to glass.

- Recycle almost all of our own waste water, waste glaze, and waste materials back into our materials

- Day-lit factory and on site recycling efforts

- Retrofitted factory lighting with energy efficient lighting in factory and headquarters

- Use recycled materials for our packaging

"FTC is seeking public comments on the proposed guidelines through December 10, 2010. To submit your comments during the public comment period, please use the Federal Trade Commission Comment Form located on their website."

Thanks to Greenerprinter for making us aware of this important issue.

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