Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP Client Alert
4.13

Marketing a product or service as “energy efficient” or “environmentally friendly” can help target specific customers and generate sales. However, sellers are well-advised to exercise caution in crafting and substantiating environmental benefit claims in light of recent action by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address marketing tactics it views as misleading or deceptive.

The FTC recently published its revised “Guides For The Use Of Environmental Marketing Claims” to assist companies who make “green claims.” The following are some important tips for complying with those guidelines:

Have a documented “reasonable basis” to support every environmental claim. 

The customer’s perception is everything.

Think through the various ways that potential customers might reasonably interpret your claim.

Narrow the scope of the claim to one you have a reasonable basis to support.

Exercise caution if the net effect of the environmental benefit is insignificant or diminished by some other aspect of the product.

Beyond FTC enforcement, overstated environmental benefit claims can be the basis for negligence, fraud, malpractice or breach of contract litigation. Concerned parties can access information on the FTC’s revised “Green Guides” at http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2012/10/ftc-issues-revised-green-guides.

For additional information on the FTC guidelines or other product stewardship or environmental concerns, please contact Daniel Flynn of our Environmental Department: dflynn@greenbaumlaw.com or 732-476-2678.

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