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Marketing “Sustainability”: Don't Forget the Green Guides

In October 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its revised “Green Guides,” which are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about environmental attributes of their products are truthful. The guidelines set forth specific requirements for a wide variety of environmental claims, Significantly, however, the FTC did not address “sustainability” claims.

National Public Radio (NPR) recently ran a series on “sustainable” seafood claims. The series raised a host of issues regarding what these terms mean, whether the claims are verifiable, what “sustainable” certifications mean, and what they convey to the public.

This article examines the key issues highlighted in the NPR story on sustainable fisheries, in the context of the newest version of the FTC’s Green Guides, that marketers face when using broad terms such as “sustainable” and relying upon third-party certifications.

Albert M. Cohen is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Loeb & Loeb LLP and has more than 30 years of experience handling complex environmental cases and transactions.