AUSTIN, Texas--(EnviroMedia Social Marketing releases new research that shows 65 percent of Americans would prefer just one seal for green products over the hundreds now that are causing confusion.)--As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) closes its public comment period for its Green Guides,
“Having one comprehensive national seal to identify the best green products would limit consumer confusion and also hold advertisers accountable to one set of standards.”
If approved, the Green Guides would restrict renewable energy claims, an area of confusion, according to research results. When asked, “Is coal a renewable energy source?” 25 percent of Americans said yes and another 15 percent said they didn’t know.
It’s increasingly hard to determine if a product is truly “green.” Certifications like ENERGY STAR help consumers address energy efficiency. However, new standards for water use, packaging, recyclability, toxics, and carbon impact are competing for attention and space on the product label.
The research shows Americans most trust a third-party certification system, like the Good Housekeeping Seal, Green Seal, or Underwriters Laboratory as the primary enforcer of manufacturers’ green claims.
“There are more than 350 labels or seals of approval that offer to help consumers know whether a product is green or healthy, which is classic information overload for the consumer’s brain,” said Kevin Tuerff, co-founder of EnviroMedia. “Having one comprehensive national seal to identify the best green products would limit consumer confusion and also hold advertisers accountable to one set of standards.”
EnviroMedia commissioned Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) to conduct a national survey of 1,022 Americans. The findings show:
- Two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say having one seal for all green products would give them more confidence that they were buying green. Only 26 percent said it would not.
- More Americans (41 percent) think that the primary enforcer of green product claims should be a third-party certification system like the Good Housekeeping Seal™, beating out the FTC at 26 percent. Only 16 percent think the ad industry should police itself.
“That's exactly what the industry wants, but it’s obviously not working,” said Valerie Davis, co-founder of EnviroMedia. “If you want to see real examples of why it’s not working, visit greenwashingindex.com. Advertisers who have been stretching the truth about their products’ environmental benefits know better. Or at least they should know how the products they advertise are made and packaged.”
December 10 marks the end of the public comment period on the Green Guides, intended to prevent marketers from making misleading environmental claims. The public may comment at ftc.gov/green.