Responding to a request for public input, Boyden Gray PLLC this week submitted a comment on behalf of Consumers’ Research regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides). 

The comment identifies ways that corporate interests have used the existing Green Guides as cover for false and misleading environmental marketing claims—particularly “zero-emissions vehicles,” and “sustainable” or “net-zero” products. The comment explains:

While it is true that all-electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions—they have no tailpipes!—it is completely false to claim that they are “zero-emissions” vehicles. Imagine a car that carried its engine in a trailer. The “car” itself produces no emissions, but the trailer, which provides all the car’s motive power, still emits greenhouse-gases and other pollutants. It would be absurd for this type of vehicle to be labeled “zero-emissions”…. [E]lectricity does not come emissions free.

The comment adds:

The supply chain for solar power and electric batteries is deeply immersed in ongoing human rights violations in China and other nations. The mining of critical minerals often leads to dramatic environmental harms as waste from their production is dumped into water ways in their countries of origin. And solar panels, electric batteries, and wind turbine blades are being manufactured at an unprecedented rate, with no developed plan for safely recycling their toxic components at the end of their lifecycle. Technologies manufactured with slave labor, or which permanently destroy local lakes, cannot be described as sustainable

The comment explains that false and misleading environmental claims seek to “exploit consumer goodwill” and “depriv[e] consumers of the accurate information necessary for informed decision making.” And by blessing these claims, the existing Green Guides create an imbalance in the marketplace, where honest companies that refuse to engage in deceptive “greenwashing” of their businesses “suffer competitive disadvantage and pressure to avoid making any environmental claims whatsoever,” further depriving consumers of accurate information.

 View the full comment here