The Federal Trade Commission is expected to toughen
enforcement and environmental guidelines around “greenwashing” when it updates its environmental marketing guidelines
for the first time since 1998, according to a report in the New York
The agency's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, or
Green Guides, define terms such as “recyclable” and “biodegradable” and
explain how businesses should back up environmental assertions. Though
FTC cannot force businesses to adopt greener practices, Section 5 of
the FTC Act authorizes the agency to intervene when businesses are
misrepresenting their practices to clients.
FTC did not use those guidelines to file any complaints regarding
environmental claims during the administration of President George W.
Bush, but it has filed seven since Obama took office.