The FTC’s long overdue update of the Green Guides announced last week will help protect consumers from vague green marketing claims.  Among other proposed changes, summarized by the FTC here, the Guides will bar unqualified claims of “green” and “eco-friendly,” further clarify how companies can use “compostable” and “recyclable,” and require specifying what attributes of a product an eco-label applies to. 

There are shortcomings in the proposed revisions. For example, they do not offer guidance on claims involving a product’s life cycle or hidden tradeoffs (e.g., a product that saves consumers 50 gallons of water but consumes 5,000 to produce). They also don’t address claims relating to Cradle to Cradle design or green chemistry, as Joel Makower points out.