Frequent Questions

Are there requirements for products with "green" labels, such as biodegradable, organic, recycled, low emitting, etc.?

From Introduction to Ecolabels and Standards for Greener Products:

"The number of standards for green products has increased in recent years due to growth in market demand for "green" products. Recent examples include standards for electronics and building materials (such as furniture, carpet, and paint). More are likely to arise as retailers, governments, and other buyers seek to expand their green purchasing.

However, along with this changing marketplace has come increasing concern regarding "greenwashing" and uncertainty about which environmental claims related to standards and labels can be trusted. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has created its Green Guides to help ensure that marketing claims regarding the environmental attributes of products are truthful and substantiated. However, these guides largely address when and how very specific and narrow environmental attributes can be claimed, not how to construct a broad-based environmental standard or ecolabeling program."

Also see Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services for more information.

Consumer labeling and green purchasing:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Environmental Claims: Summary of the Green Guides states that "The FTC's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims explain how the FTC Act is enforced when it comes to environmental claims. The Guides provide a framework for the use of environmental advertising and labeling claims in the marketplace: they reduce consumer confusion, help establish a level playing field for competition, and reduce the legal risk for marketers."

Organic Label

U.S. Department of Agriculture: What is Organic? (PDF) (2 pp, 157 MB, About PDF): “Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.”

Other related Department of Agriculture information:

 

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