Environmental Marketing Claims Receive Business Scrutiny

Consumers and governments have applied greater scrutiny to environmental marketing claims. Enforcement for environmental marketing claims has typically come from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), under its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims at 40 C.F.R. Part 260, also called the “Green Guides.” But last week the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs issued a decision on environmental marketing, reminding manufacturers of actors outside the federal government that can affect environmental claims for products.

The September 28, 2021, decision by NAD determined that Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP had a reasonable basis and substantiation for environmental benefit claims for its Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong Bathroom Tissue. These included tree-planting, energy-efficient manufacturing, and sustainability claims. However, NAD recommended that certain claims should be modified “to more clearly disclose the basis for the claims and to avoid communicating unsupported messages.”

NAD is a part of BBB National Programs and describes itself as “provid[ing] independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S.” NAD may ask advertisers that voluntarily participate in its program to change their marketing claims if it determines a claim is not adequately substantiated or clear. If an advertiser ignores NAD’s determination and recommendation, NAD may refer the matter to the FTC or other regulatory agencies.

As for the Green Guides, FTC announced this summer, as part of a larger regulatory review, its intention to initiate revision of the Green Guides sometime in 2022.

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