How to Avoid Greenwashing 
When Promoting Your 
Environmentally Sound 
Initiatives 
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Purpose of Today! 
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Greenwash!! 
Overview of the 2012 FTC Green Guides! 
What Else You ...
Jacquelyn Ottman! 
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Founder, Principal, J. Ottman Consulting, Inc., 
adivsors to busine...
Our Clients!
Greenwash! 
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Definition: Misleading claims re: 
environmental benefits of products, 
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Corporate Risks of 
Greenwash 
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Accusations from: media, consumers, 
regulators, compet...
78% of Americans Will Boycott ! 
Greenwashed Products! 
Source: 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Tracker!
R.I.P.
40% of Americans think “green”’ ! 
means positive impact! 
Source: 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Tracker!
The FTC Green Guides: 
An Overview!
FTC Green Guides 
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!Introduced in 1992; updated in 2012! 
!Not the law — but used t...
FTC Green Guides Apply to B2B Claims, Too! 
Customers Can Suffer When Supplierʼs Claims are 
Questioned 
Supplier! Custome...
Whatʼs Covered in 
the Guides - 1 
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!General Environmental Benefit Claims 
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(‘Green’, ‘Eco-Friendly’), —! 
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Whatʼs Covered in 
the Guides - 2 
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‘Free of’, ‘Non-toxic’, ‘Ozone-safe’! 
‘Recycla...
Whatʼs NOT Covered 
in the Guides 
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!‘Energy Efficient’ (US EPA)! 
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!‘Organic’ (USDA)! 
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Cases since 2012 
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!Plastic lumber (% PCR)! 
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!Plastics bio/ oxo- degradability! 
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!Diaper compostabili...
The 2012 FTC Green Guides: 
Whatʼs New, Whatʼs Important!
Avoid Generalized 
Environmental Claims!
“Eco-Friendly” Based R.I. 
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on Single Attribute!
Images, too! ! R.I. 
P.
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R.I.P.? 
Be careful to avoid any cause-marketing 
efforts that may unfairly 
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“Blue”, not green!!
Be Specific!
Provide complete 
information!
Be transparent when 
enlisting the support of 
third parties!
Avoid Seals and Certifications that R.I. 
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Donʼt Identify the Certifying Body!
Credible Third Party 
Certifications!
Be Clear — 
What Consumers 
Take Away is Key 
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FTC Research: 
Consumers confuse 
“Renewable” with 
“Recycled”, “Recyclable” 
and “Biodegradable” 
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Consumers likely confuse 
ʻbiobasedʼ, ʻbiodegradableʼ, 
ʻcompostableʼ, ʻnaturalʼ, 
and ʻrenewableʼ!
ʻBiobasedʼ does not necessarily mean 
ʻbiodegradableʼ, ʻcompostableʼ, 
ʻrecyclableʼ or ʻnaturalʼ ! 
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Some bio-based plastics are 
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©2003 J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. 
Some things degrade in your 
backyard composter…. !
And some things donʼt…! R.I.P. 
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“All Greenware® products are made in the USA 
from plant sources that are domestically-grown 
and annually renewable as we...
“Ecolab's bio-based facility care solutions are 
made from plant-derived natural resources and 
designed to remove soils f...
"Biobased products add value to renewable 
agriculture commodities, create jobs in rural 
communities and help our nation ...
Other Things That Can Help 
Underscore Credibility! 
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Walk Your Talk (product ...
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In Sum - 1! 
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It is possible to avoid the risks of greenwash. 
Following the FTC Guides...
In Sum - 2! 
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Be careful when using undefined terms, e.g., 
Sustainable, Natur...
http://www.greenmarketing.com/ 
our-book! 
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http://adage.com/trend-reports/! 
report.php?id=82! 
http://www.asrcreviews....
Placeholder slide 
only. Download a 
copy of document 
at ! 
http:// 
www.slideshare.net 
/JOttman! 
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Placeholder slide 
only. (Second page 
of 2) Download a 
copy of this 
document at ! 
http:// 
www.slideshare.net 
/JOttma...
Letʼs Talk Some More! 
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Jacquie Ottman! 
212 879 4160! 
Info [at] greenmarketing (do...
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Copyright ©2014 by J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. ! 
315 East 69 Street, NY NY 10021 USA !...
How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives
How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives
How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives
How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives
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How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives

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Green marketing expert Jacquie Ottman talks greenwashing and how to avoid it by going throughout the FTC Green Guides and giving advice on what to say and do when promoting your environmentally sound initiatives.

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How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives

  1. 1. How to Avoid Greenwashing When Promoting Your Environmentally Sound Initiatives • • • • • • • • • • • • Presented to! By Jacquelyn A. Ottman ! November 2014! .
  2. 2. Purpose of Today! • • • • • • • • • • • • Greenwash!! Overview of the 2012 FTC Green Guides! What Else You Can Say/Do! Conclusions! Resources! Q & A! !! !
  3. 3. Jacquelyn Ottman! • • • • • • • • • • • • Founder, Principal, J. Ottman Consulting, Inc., adivsors to business and government on positive sustainability and green marketing strategy.! Founder, WeHateToWaste.com, an initiative to foster awareness and education for consumer and employee waste prevention education. ! Author, New Rules of Green Marketing, How to Make Credible Green Marketing Claims! !
  4. 4. Our Clients!
  5. 5. Greenwash! • • • • • • • • • • • • Definition: Misleading claims re: environmental benefits of products, operations, or processes. ! Can be inadvertent due to lack of awareness, education on scientific issues but risks are still the same.! ! ! !
  6. 6. Corporate Risks of Greenwash • • • • • • • • • • • • Accusations from: media, consumers, regulators, competitors, scientific community! Legal, financial risks from lawsuits! Reputational risks! Sales! !! ! ! !
  7. 7. 78% of Americans Will Boycott ! Greenwashed Products! Source: 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Tracker!
  8. 8. R.I.P.
  9. 9. 40% of Americans think “green”’ ! means positive impact! Source: 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Tracker!
  10. 10. The FTC Green Guides: An Overview!
  11. 11. FTC Green Guides • • • • • • • • • • • • !! !Introduced in 1992; updated in 2012! !Not the law — but used to guide legal judgments! !Covers B2B as well as consumer claims! !Environment = exclusive focus (not susty, human health)! !! !! !! !
  12. 12. FTC Green Guides Apply to B2B Claims, Too! Customers Can Suffer When Supplierʼs Claims are Questioned Supplier! Customer!
  13. 13. Whatʼs Covered in the Guides - 1 !! • • !General Environmental Benefit Claims • (‘Green’, ‘Eco-Friendly’), —! • • • ! Images, Product Names, too! • • !Certifications, Seals and Endorsements! • • !Carbon offsets! • • !! ! !! !!
  14. 14. Whatʼs Covered in the Guides - 2 • • • • • • • • • • • • !! ‘Free of’, ‘Non-toxic’, ‘Ozone-safe’! ‘Recyclable’, ‘Made with recycled content’! ‘Made with renewable energy, … materials’! ‘Biodegradable’ ‘Compostable’ ! ‘Source reduction’ ‘Refillable’! ! !! !! !
  15. 15. Whatʼs NOT Covered in the Guides !! • • !‘Energy Efficient’ (US EPA)! • • !‘Organic’ (USDA)! • • !‘Biobasedʼ (USDA)! • • !‘Natural’ (Not Defined)! • • • !‘Sustainable’ (Not Defined)! • ! ! !! !
  16. 16. Cases since 2012 !! • !Plastic lumber (% PCR)! • • • !Plastics bio/ oxo- degradability! • • !Diaper compostability! • • !Mattresses (VOC-free)! • • !Zero VOC Paints! • • !Bamboo/ Rayon Textiles! ! ! !! !! !
  17. 17. The 2012 FTC Green Guides: Whatʼs New, Whatʼs Important!
  18. 18. Avoid Generalized Environmental Claims!
  19. 19. “Eco-Friendly” Based R.I. P. on Single Attribute!
  20. 20. Images, too! ! R.I. P.
  21. 21. • • • • • • • • • • • • R.I.P.? Be careful to avoid any cause-marketing efforts that may unfairly halo their productʼs environmental performance. !
  22. 22. “Blue”, not green!!
  23. 23. Be Specific!
  24. 24. Provide complete information!
  25. 25. Be transparent when enlisting the support of third parties!
  26. 26. Avoid Seals and Certifications that R.I. P. Donʼt Identify the Certifying Body!
  27. 27. Credible Third Party Certifications!
  28. 28. Be Clear — What Consumers Take Away is Key !
  29. 29. FTC Research: Consumers confuse “Renewable” with “Recycled”, “Recyclable” and “Biodegradable” !
  30. 30. Consumers likely confuse ʻbiobasedʼ, ʻbiodegradableʼ, ʻcompostableʼ, ʻnaturalʼ, and ʻrenewableʼ!
  31. 31. ʻBiobasedʼ does not necessarily mean ʻbiodegradableʼ, ʻcompostableʼ, ʻrecyclableʼ or ʻnaturalʼ ! • • • • • • • • • • • •
  32. 32. Some bio-based plastics are recyclable but not compostable … ! • • • • • • • • • • • •
  33. 33. • • • • • • • • • • • • ©2003 J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. Some things degrade in your backyard composter…. !
  34. 34. And some things donʼt…! R.I.P. • • • • • • • • • • • •
  35. 35. • • • • • • • • • • • •
  36. 36. “All Greenware® products are made in the USA from plant sources that are domestically-grown and annually renewable as well as 100 percent compostable in actively managed municipal or industrial facilities, where available.”!
  37. 37. “Ecolab's bio-based facility care solutions are made from plant-derived natural resources and designed to remove soils from hard surfaces safely and effectively.” ! ! ! ! ! !!
  38. 38. "Biobased products add value to renewable agriculture commodities, create jobs in rural communities and help our nation decrease its reliance on foreign-sourced and non-renewable petroleum.”! ! ! ! ! !
  39. 39. Other Things That Can Help Underscore Credibility! • • • • • • • • • • • • ! ! ! Walk Your Talk (product & company)! Promote Responsible Behavior! Pro-active Innovation throughout Lifecycle! Be Transparent (Provide specifics)! Enlist Third Parties (beyond ecolabels)!
  40. 40. • • • • • • • • • • • •
  41. 41. In Sum - 1! • • • • • • • • • • • • It is possible to avoid the risks of greenwash. Following the FTC Guides can help:! ! ! ! !Avoid generalized environmental claims! !Be specific! !Tell the whole story! !Be clear — what consumers take away !is key! !!
  42. 42. In Sum - 2! • • • • • • • • • • • • ! ! ! Be careful when using undefined terms, e.g., Sustainable, Natural, etc.! Every situation is unique, so consult with environmental scientists and legal counsel! Look for opportunities to practice self-regulation. ! ! ! !
  43. 43. http://www.greenmarketing.com/ our-book! ! http://adage.com/trend-reports/! report.php?id=82! http://www.asrcreviews.org! http://ftc.gov/greenguides! ! Helpful Resources!
  44. 44. Placeholder slide only. Download a copy of document at ! http:// www.slideshare.net /JOttman! !
  45. 45. Placeholder slide only. (Second page of 2) Download a copy of this document at ! http:// www.slideshare.net /JOttman! !
  46. 46. Letʼs Talk Some More! • • • • • • • • • • • • ! Jacquie Ottman! 212 879 4160! Info [at] greenmarketing (dot) com! ! ! ! !
  47. 47. • • • • • • • • • • • • Copyright ©2014 by J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. ! 315 East 69 Street, NY NY 10021 USA ! ! This presentation was excerpted from a recent talk given by Jacquelyn Ottman. ! ! It is the exclusive property of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. It may not be reproduced or transmitted or repurposed for any use, in whole or in part in any form without prior written permission.!

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