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'New and improved' green guides

The Federal Trade Commis-sion has updated its environmental marketing guidelines that dictate the use of common environmental claims and logos on packaging and advertising.

The new guides took effect on October 4, 1996. Among the highlights of the updated green guides: * Unless an advertiser or manufacturer can substantiate the broad meaning conveyed by environmental seals-of-approval and "environmentally preferable" claims, they should be accompanied by "qualifying language limiting the superiority claim." * The unqualified use of the three chasing arrows symbol should be limited to items that are both entirely made from recycled material and are recyclable. Otherwise, the limited availability of recycling programs for that item or the percentage of recycled content should be indicated, "if appropriate." * Claims of being "essentially non-toxic" or "practically non-toxic" should be made only if the product does not pose a significant risk to humans or the environment. The 100% Recycled Paper-board Alliance said the new guides should help eliminate consumer confusion and raise awareness of 100% recycled paperboard packaging. RPA-100% has updated its symbol for that material. The FTC held off on revising its guides on recyclable and compostable claims until it analyzes the results of further consumer research. Many groups, including the Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC), want less stringent guides to recyclable claims. The ongoing consumer re-search is seeking to determine if and how consumer perceptions have changed. The recyclable guides are expected next spring.

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