[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 199 (Tuesday, October 14, 2008)]
[Pages 60702-60704]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-24339]



Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; 
Comment Request

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission (``Commission'' or ``FTC'').

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The FTC plans to conduct a study to examine consumer 
perception of environmental marketing claims. This activity is part of 
the Commission's regulatory review of the Guides for the Use of 
Environmental Marketing Claims (``Green Guides'' or ``Guides''). Before 
gathering this information, the FTC is seeking public comments on the 
proposed study. Comments will be considered before the FTC submits a 
request for Office of Management and Budget (``OMB'') review under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act (``PRA'').

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 15, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties are invited to submit written comments 
electronically or in paper form. Comments should refer to ``Green 
Marketing Consumer Perception Study, Project No. P954501'' to 
facilitate the organization of comments. Please note that comments will 
be placed on the public record of this proceeding--including on the 
publicly accessible FTC website, at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm) -- and therefore should not include any sensitive 
or confidential information. In particular, comments should not include 
any sensitive personal information, such as an individual's Social 
Security Number; date of birth; driver's license number or other state 
identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport number; 
financial account number; or credit or debit card number. Comments also 
should not include any sensitive health information, such as medical 
records or other individually identifiable health information. In 
addition, comments should not include any ``[t]rade secrets and 
commercial or financial information obtained from a person and 
privileged or confidential . . .,'' as provided in Section 6(f) of the 
FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and Commission Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 
4.10(a)(2) (2008). Comments containing

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material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in 
paper form, must be clearly labeled ``Confidential,'' and must comply 
with FTC Rule 4.9(c).\1\

    \1\ FTC Rule 4.2(d), 16 CFR 4.2(d). The comment must be 
accompanied by an explicit request for confidential treatment, 
including the factual and legal basis for the request, and must 
identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from 
the public record. The request will be granted or denied by the 
Commission's General Counsel, consistent with applicable law and the 
public interest. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c) (2008).

    Because paper mail addressed to the FTC is subject to delay due to 
heightened security screening, please consider submitting your comments 
in electronic form. Comments filed in electronic form should be 
submitted by using the following weblink: (https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-GreenGuidesReview) (and following the 
instructions on the web-based form). To ensure that the Commission 
considers an electronic comment, you must file it on the web-based form 
at the weblink (https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-GreenGuidesReview). 
If this Notice appears at (http://www.regulations.gov/search/index.jsp), you may also file an electronic comment through that 
website. The Commission will consider all comments that regulations.gov 
forwards to it. You may also visit the FTC website at http://www.ftc.gov to read the Notice and the news release describing it.
    A comment filed in paper form should include the ``Green Marketing 
Consumer Perception Study, Project No. P954501'' reference both in the 
text and on the envelope, and should be mailed or delivered to the 
following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 
Room H-135 (Annex J), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 
20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form be 
sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal 
mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay 
due to heightened security precautions.
    The FTC Act and other laws the Commission administers permit the 
collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as 
appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive 
public comments that it receives, whether filed in paper or electronic 
form. Comments received will be available to the public on the FTC 
website, to the extent practicable, at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm). As a matter of discretion, the Commission makes 
every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from 
the public comments it receives before placing those comments on the 
FTC website. More information, including routine uses permitted by the 
Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC's privacy policy, at (http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/privacy.shtm).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Koss, Attorney, 202-326-2890, or 
Michael J. Davis, Attorney, 202-326-2458, Division of Enforcement, 
Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission.


I. Background

    The Commission issued the Green Guides, 16 CFR Part 260, to help 
marketers avoid making environmental claims that are unfair or 
deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45.\2\ Guides are 
administrative interpretations of the law. Therefore, they do not have 
the force and effect of law and are not independently enforceable. The 
Guides, however, are the Commission's interpretation of Section 5 of 
the FTC Act as it applies to environmental marketing claims. The 
Commission, therefore, can take action under the FTC Act if a business 
makes environmental marketing claims inconsistent with the Guides. In 
any such enforcement action, the Commission must prove that the act or 
practice at issue is unfair or deceptive.

    \2\ The Commission issued the Green Guides in 1992, 57 FR 36363, 
and subsequently revised them in 1996 (61 FR 53311) and 1998 (63 FR 

    The Green Guides outline general principles that apply to all 
environmental marketing claims and provide guidance regarding specific 
categories of environmental claims. These categories include: general 
environmental benefit claims, such as ``environmentally friendly''; 
degradable claims; compostable claims; recyclable claims; recycled 
content claims; source reduction claims; refillable claims; and ozone 
safe/ozone friendly claims. For each of these claims, the Green Guides 
explain how reasonable consumers are likely to interpret them. The 
Guides also describe the basic elements necessary to substantiate 
claims and present options for qualifying specific claims to avoid 
deception.\3\ The illustrative qualifications provide ``safe harbors'' 
for marketers who want certainty about how to make environmental 
claims, but do not represent the only permissible approaches to 
qualifying a claim.

    \3\ The Guides do not, however, establish standards for 
environmental performance or prescribe testing protocols.

II. Regulatory Review of the Green Guides

    The Commission reviews all of its rules and guides periodically to 
examine their efficacy, costs, and benefits, and to determine whether 
to retain, modify, or rescind them. On November 26, 2007, the FTC 
commenced its review of the Green Guides and sought public comment.\4\ 
As part of this comprehensive review, the FTC also announced a series 
of public workshops to explore emerging environmental marketing issues 
and, through subsequent notices, opened public comment periods in 
connection with each workshop.\5\ The Commission sought comment on a 
number of issues, including the continuing need for and economic impact 
of the Guides, the effect of the Guides on the accuracy of 
environmental claims, and whether the Guides should illustrate certain 
environmental claims--such as carbon neutrality, sustainability, and 
renewability--not currently addressed in the Guides. The Commission 
also sought specific consumer survey evidence and consumer perception 
data addressing environmental claims. Few commenters submitted consumer 
survey evidence or consumer perception data. The Commission, therefore, 
is considering conducting its own consumer study related to consumer 
perception of environmental marketing claims. This study would aid the 
Commission in determining what revisions, if any, it should make to the 
Guides to ensure that the Guides are appropriately responsive to any 
changes in consumer perception of environmental claims.

    \4\ 72 FR 66091.
    \5\ See 72 FR 66094, Carbon Offsets and Renewable Energy 
Certificates (held on January 8, 2008); 73 FR 11371, Green Packaging 
Claims (held on April 30, 2008); and 73 FR 32662, Green Building and 
Textiles (held on July 8, 2008).

III. Paperwork Reduction Act Notice

    As required by Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501-21, 
the FTC is providing this opportunity for public comment before 
requesting that OMB approve the study. Under the PRA, federal agencies 
must obtain OMB approval for each collection of information they 
conduct or sponsor. ``Collection of information'' means agency requests 
or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep 
records, or provide information to a third party. 44 U.S.C. 3502(3); 5 
CFR 1320.3(c).
    Specifically, the FTC invites comments on: (1) whether the proposed 
collection of information is necessary

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for the proper performance of the functions of the FTC, including 
whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy 
of the FTC's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of 
information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of 
the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of 
collecting information on those who are to respond, including through 
the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other 
technological collection techniques or other forms of information 
technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. All 
comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, 
and must be received on or before December 15, 2008.

IV. FTC's Proposed Study of Consumer Perception

    The FTC proposes to collect information from up to 7,000 consumers 
in order to gather data on consumer perception of environmental 
marketing claims. All information will be collected on a voluntary 
basis. The FTC plans to contract with a consumer research firm to 
identify consumers and conduct the study via the Internet. Among other 
things, the research firm will be expected to study a stratified sample 
of the adult United States population broadly representative of 
consumer group characteristics (e.g., geographic location, housing 
characteristics, gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity), relative 
to the most recent Census Bureau Current Population Survey.
    The FTC expects that selected respondents will be asked questions 
about a number of express or implied environmental marketing claim 
concepts, such as ``renewable'' and ``sustainable.'' Each concept may 
be featured in a separate module of questions. Such questions may 
explore perceptions about the unqualified general concept and 
variations on the concept. The results will assist the FTC in its 
review of the Green Guides by helping to ensure that the Green Guides 
are consistent with consumer perception of environmental marketing 
    The FTC is considering pre-testing the consumer questionnaires on 
approximately 100 respondents to ensure that all questions are easily 
understood. The FTC expects that the pre-test would take approximately 
25 minutes on average per person, approximately 42 hours total (100 
respondents x 25 minutes each). Once the pretest is completed, the FTC 
plans to seek information from up to 7,000 respondents for 
approximately 25 minutes each. Thus, answering the FTC's information 
requests will require up to 2,917 hours total (7,000 respondents x 25 
minutes each). Accordingly, cumulative total burden hours for the 
survey will be approximately 3,000 hours.
    The cost per respondent should be negligible. Participation is 
voluntary and will not require start-up, capital, or labor expenditures 
by respondents.
    By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,
[FR Doc. E8-24339 Filed 10-10-08: 8:45 am]