Environmentalists’ Complaint Exposes Rift Between ‘Green’ Certification Groups


This article is about Federal Trade Commissioners noting that many companies have been using eco-labeling inaccurately and to the companies advantage. For example, the agency brought cases against Amazon.com, Macy’s, and Sears for selling clothing made with bamboo that was fashioned with an ungreen material therefore making it not eco friendly yet it was labeled as eco friendly. Therefore, trade commissioners are keeping a close eye on products that may contain false labeling. The trade commissioners stated that they bring the cases up because the consumers are the ones who believe they are doing good by consuming this certain product when in reality it is harmful to the environment. Another problem rose by environmental groups. The environmental groups stated that companies have been falsely claiming that their product or service is somehow more environmentally friendly or sustainable than similar products. This has been seen with many timber industries that certify paper as being “green” when most products that contain paper are indeed “green”. These same environmental groups who claim that this timber company may have a recyclable product labeled correctly but their method of making the product damages forests with methods like clear-cutting, overusing pesticides, and destroying habitats or rare species. Therefore, these environmental groups state that eco-labeling should not only be for the product but they way in which it was made. There have been new guidelines in the US stating that a company can claim that a product or process is environmentally sound yet the environmental groups test these guidelines because anyone can claim that their products or companies are environmentally friendly. The Federal Trade Commissioners warns manufacturers or marketers not to use broad claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly,” because these statements frequently have no scientific basis and mislead consumers. The agency also now warns against claiming that a product is biodegradable, free of harmful substances, made with renewable energy or made with all-natural materials unless these statements can be proven. There are concerns that conflicts may arise because more companies are seeking to position themselves in a “green” marketplace.

Marina Bryant

Global Policy, Toxicity, and Pest Management: eco-labeling


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