FTC Cracks Down on Deceptive Certification Marks: Is Your Certification Communicating Credibility or Could it Land You in Hot Water?

In a groundbreaking statement, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has underscored that all certification marks are not created equal – sending a powerful message to manufacturers and certifiers about the role of vague ecolabels in Greenwashing.

In their statement, issued on September 14, 2015, the FTC announced that five certifiers and 32 brands that use those certifiers’ marks have been formally warned for deceptive marks/mark use.

UL Environment applauds this effort to clean up the marketplace, and is proud to be well ahead of the curve in aligning our certification marks with the FTC Green Guides.

UL Environment’s mark design and mark use guidelines are evidence of our commitment to clarity and precision in green marketing. Operating in the best interest of our customers and consumers, our brand guidelines require qualifying language be used in lockup with our marks.

This requirement fits well with the FTC’s recommendation that manufacturers  “only use environmental certifications or seals that convey the basis for the certification,” advice that UL also shared in our Under the Lens: Claiming Green study.

Our study, completed in partnership with the Shelton Group in November, 2014, resulted in more than 41,000 head-to-head product comparisons –conclusively showing that not only can consumers be misled by certification marks not accompanied by qualifying language, but that vague ecolabels can actually damage their perception of a brand.

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Need a refresher on how to appropriately use a UL Environment certification mark? Authorized users can download a copy of our mark use guidelines from our MyULEnvironmentcustomer portal.