Green Marketing Claims BLOG for the American Sustainable Business Council

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Green Marketing Claims BLOG for the American Sustainable Business Council

When examining the challenges of “green” claims, it is critical to understand what the basis for those claims is. There are any number of categories that fall under the heading of environmental or health, wellness and safety claims including, the composition and sourcing of materials; responsible social, labor practices; energy usage practices; the processing, handling and shipping of components or finished products; the chemical composition or treatments of these product; s and the short-term and long term heath and safety impacts these products may have on people who come in contact with them. Various “green” claims often focus on one aspect or another of a product such as minimal off-gassing or proven bio-degradability or recyclability of a product and not on another aspect such as whether harmful chemicals used in growing and creating a product or the amount of petroleum-based fuel or energy ( carbon footprint ) to make the product.

The first challenge when making a “green” claim is specificity. A manufacturer and marketer needs to be very detailed with supported third-party testing and research to make a particular claim when labeling a product “green.” For instance a product may in fact be largely composed of bio-based or renewable materials that do not use conventional petroleum oils or synthetic petro-chemicals, ( for instance a greener foam) , but still require a large degree of chemicals or energy during processing to create a component or a finished product. A product may be “green” in one area and not at all “green” in another. A product may be safe in the home or have minimum off-gassing as a finished product, but used a lot of questionable chemicals or resources in making the product in the first place. The point is, companies making “green” claims should conduct a full life cycle analysis and a product impact study, and know which of the “green” attributes it is choosing to promote when making “green” claims.

The Federal Trade Commission FTC “Green Guides” state very clearly that companies should avoid generic “green” claims such as “eco-friendly” and “environmentally-friendly.” While the FTC   chose to not enforce the words “natural”, “all-natural” and “organic” as terms that are either too broad and without clear definition, or fall under the authority of another agency, they have clearly stated that “green” marketers should be very specific and detailed in their claims substantiated by third-party testing and research, and well as, substantiated and currently valid certifications and broadly-accepted standards. These guides spell out terms and conditions for indicating when a product is a “recyclable” or “biodegradable.” product. Our summary of the “Green Guides” for our SSA members is clearly to “Tell the Truth ( no fudging); The Whole Truth ( leave nothing out) ; and Nothing But the Truth ( no embellishment or exaggeration.) … and to spell out what you mean when you make a claim.

We at the SSA have chosen to select as our focus the health, safety and wellness “CONTENTS” of a product through our BEDFAX consumer disclosure contents label program. Since people come into intimate contact with their mattresses and bedding products, we believe our retailers and consumers should know “What’s In Your Bed.” If a manufacturer wants to make a “green” claim for a mattress model in the BEDFAX program, that manufacturer must provide current, paid-in-full and valid documentation, certifications and testing to substantiate that “green” claim on the contents label.

It is very important to disclaim any legal authority or to suggest that this in any way represents legal counsel for a grower, supplier, manufacturer, retailer or consumer who may read this blog. The Specialty Sleep Association (SSA) is a non-profit industry association, which advocates and supports a broad range of innovations and technologies in the mattress, bedding and top of bed industries. Granted our leadership has spent many person-hours over the years since 2009 researching, investigating and commenting on so-called “green” or “environmental” marketing claims including establishing close relationships with certifying bodies, non-governmental organizations ( NGO’s) and government agencies such as Oeko-Tex®, CertiPUR-US®, GOTS, GOLS, TE, FSC, USDA-NOP, USDA-Bio-Preferred, CPSC, SFC, OTA, and ASBC to name a few. So while we may have some credibility on this topic, we do not have any legal authority. If you have any questions, please contact: Dale T. Read, President of the SSA at or 443-221-7534

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