The Federal Trade Commission’s “Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims” (the “Green Guides”) were first issued in 1992 and were last updated in October 2012. The Green Guides cover a wide range of industries and are intended to help marketers and advertisers avoid making environmental claims that could mislead consumers.
For the jewelry industry, the FTC’S 2023 review of the Green Guides is particularly important, as consumers continue to show an increasing desire to purchase products they view as “good for the environment.” In light of this sentiment, members of the industry struggle with how to appropriately market items such as diamonds (whether natural or laboratory-grown), gemstones, and precious metals without causing consumer confusion. Unfortunately, the current version of the Guides lacks clarity in several key areas.
On December 14th, 2022 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it is beginning its statutory review of the Green Guides, a set of guidelines that help marketers understand green and eco-friendly advertising claims and terminology. Initially introduced in 1992, these guides have not been revised since 2012 even while the environment for these kinds of claims has multiplied exponentially. Covering terminology such as “recycled”, “carbon neutral”, and others, the Green Guides provide essential information relevant to businesses marketing products in a world focused on sustainability. Additionally, the Green Guides apply across industries, which means answering these questions and providing data and evidence is paramount to ensure the jewelry industry is well-represented in the revisions. The opening set of questions from the FTC indicates that it is focused on a very broad review of the existing guides, but also asks for specific guidance on “recycled” and “sustainable” terminology.
JVC is coordinating a jewelry industry-wide response. The FTC’s formal review process opened mid-January 2023, with the first round of comments due at the end of April.
As new updates come from these communications with the FTC, we will continue to reach out to the industry for feedback and additional comments.
We encourage the industry to join the conversation and give feedback on these guidelines as we publish new forms and request comments. The best way to stay up to date is to follow us on social.
You can also email us at GreenGuides@jvclegal.org if you have any additional questions regarding the FTC Green Guides process.
In the current version of the Green Guides, the FTC intentionally chose not to address the following terms:
Other terms important to the jewelry industry are also undefined, such as:
The FTC defining these terms can greatly impact how businesses advertise their practices to the consumer, making it vital to be part of the conversation.