Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it was examining the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, better known as the Green Guides. Consumer and industry interest in green marketing is through the roof these days, and the FTC just announced that it will host a workshop specifically focused on recyclability issues.
Longtime FTC followers may recall that this is similar to what the FTC did 12 or so years ago when it last reviewed the Green Guides, with a few separate workshops closely examining several specific green issues. And we are fans of this approach. The issues are complex and warrant such deeper dives. At the moment, there is no indication from the agency as to whether other topics will be similarly treated, but certainly there are many other issues that would warrant their own workshops.
The agenda for the May 23 event has not been set, though we have heard that invites to numerous potential panelists have already been sent out. No doubt it will focus on some or all of the questions regarding recycling set forth in the initial Notice, including the state of recycling in the U.S., consumer perception of recycling claims and whether the Green Guides need to be refreshed on this topic. And the FTC has given the workshop a clever title: “Talking Trash at the FTC: Recyclable Claims and the Green Guides.” Of course, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and there is a huge market demand for and consumer interest in recyclable products.
One interesting timing issue: Comments for the regular Green Guide review are due on April 24. That has not changed. However, if you are commenting on recyclability issues, there is now a new comment period for that, and those comments are due June 13 pursuant to this latest action. Congratulations on your extension. However, keep in mind that the workshop is being held on May 23, so if you have information or research that you want the agency to consider or address at the May 23 workshop, you might want to get those comments in sooner.
And, finally, we have at times poked fun at the current FTC for its recent inexplicable avoidance of the word “workshop” when announcing, well, workshops. We were delighted to see the return of the word workshop with this announcement – akin to the return, so to speak, of new products that are made through the recycling of old products. Welcome back, “workshops”!