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How green is green? When purchasing products, how does the concerned consumer make an educated decision about which products will help them buy green? The FTC says there are too many vague and misleading claims by companies that their products are "green," so help is on the way.
This week, the FTC has released its draft guidelines for eco friendly products updating those first set up in 1998, according to The New York Times. Consumers don't always know what we are getting when we try to buy green. For example, most people think a "green" product means it is recyclable, biodegradable or made from recycled or renewable materials. Nearly half of consumers also believe eco friendly means a product is nontoxic, compostable or made with renewable energy.
Among other things, according to The Times, the FTC guidelines will set out the first federal rules for marketing products claiming carbon offsets and renewable energy credits. FTC Chair Jon Leibowitz told the press that consumers need to be protected from the vague and misleading claims companies make about eco friendly products. "For many products, confusion abounds," Leibowitz said. "We don't always get what we think we're getting."
The summary of the proposed guidelines breaks down a few concrete rules that businesses should follow. Some of the more specific rules include, limiting environmental claims to specific benefits, updated regulations regarding ozone-depleting chemicals, and putting a one year time limit for those products claiming they are bio-degradable.
In the end however, nothing will change overnight. The issues are complex and these FTC guidelines are not enforceable on their own. However, the FTC will continue the pattern of stepped up enforcement that has occurred under the Obama Administration.