Many have been contacting JVC with questions about how to compliantly advertise recycled metals in products. Let’s refresh your knowledge of this area of advertising law by answering your most frequently asked questions below:
What counts as “recycled”?
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides contain guidance on environmental claims in advertising. These guides define “recycled content” as “recycled raw material, as well as used, reconditioned, and re-manufactured components.” This definition includes both pre-consumer and post-consumer materials. While the definition itself is not surprising, the FTC warns that marketers shouldn’t make unqualified recycled content claims unless the entire product or package (excluding minor parts) is made from recycled material.
For example, a pair of earrings made from entirely reconditioned platinum will qualify as “recycled,” even if the earring posts are not made from recycled content, because these posts are likely to be considered minor parts of the product. However, if a pendant necklace is advertised as “recycled 14K gold,” when the chain is made from recycled content but the pendant is not, then that advertising would not comply with the Green Guides. In this example, the marketer should simply qualify the recycled claim, making it clear that only the chain is made from recycled metal.
Are recycled metal products automatically “green” or environmentally friendly…they don’t involve direct mining to production after all?
No. Under the Green Guides, marketers are cautioned not to make broad, qualified claims that an item or service is “environmentally friendly,” “green” or “eco-friendly.” According to the FTC, very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate. If, however, you can substantiate a qualified claim, such as “50% more recycled platinum than our previous Spring jewelry collection,” then that claim is allowable in your marketing.
I am selling products made entirely of recycled metals that are processed and formed in U.S. factories. Can I use “Made in USA” in my advertising?
The answer is likely no. Under the FTC’s Made in USA Rule, any product advertised as “Made in USA” or with similar phrases must be “all or virtually all” made in the United States using materials sourced from the US, including all significant parts and processing. As applied to jewelry products, even those that are made from a significant amount of recycled content, unless you can trace the source of the metals or gemstones used in the product, you should not use “Made in USA” claims or images in your advertising. You likely can’t trace the origin of recycled metals or stones used in your jewelry and pinpoint that origin as US-based.
If you can’t substantiate a “Made in USA” claim, don’t use it. However, you can make qualified claims such as “made from recycled silver, finished by US artisans,” where appropriate.
Stay Tuned to JVC
In 2022, the FTC will begin its Green Guides revision process, so stay tuned for more information from JVC as we begin gathering industry viewpoints on these Guides and their interpretation of words such as “sustainable,” “responsible, and “traceable,” all of which are not currently defined in the current Guides. We will also be publishing a short JVC Guide to the FTC’s Made in USA Rule, sponsored by the JCK Industry Fund.