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Green ICT Standard IFGICT: Defining Green Label

Purchasing more environmentally preferable products and engaging in other
sustainable behaviors is becoming the “new normal” for the majority of American
adult consumers, with approximately 80% of consumers reporting that they frequently
or occasionally purchase so-called “green” products.1,2 However, purchasers are confused
by the plethora of vague and sometimes misleading terminology used to distinguish
more environmentally preferable products in the marketplace. This confusion can lead
to purchaser confusion, and even skepticism, about the real meaning and value of
greener products.
If consumers are confused about environmental claims, so too are companies and
organizations. Frequently, well-intentioned efforts to fid favorable positioning
in the market for green products fail to pass muster with regulatory offiials and
“truth-in-advertising” requirements. The positioning problem can be compounded
by a company’s lack of information about the environmental profie of a product
throughout its entire lifecycle, resulting in product sustainability claims that are
incomplete or offset by other, environmentally negative, product characteristics.
This UL white paper discusses the importance of objective and verifible environmental
claims for products, and provides guidelines for the development and use of effective
and legal claims in the marketing of green products. The paper begins with a review of
leading causes of false or misleading environmental claims, known as greenwashing,
and details the risks associated with such claims. The white paper then summarizes
recommendations for effective environmental claims as detailed in the FTC’s Green
Guides. The paper concludes with recommendations for companies and organizations
on the benefis of a comprehensive approach to assessing the environmental
preferability of their green products.

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