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ANSI Testifies to House of Representatives on Green Marketing Practices

New York, Jun 10, 2009

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection on the issue of green marketing claims earlier this week.

The hearing, It’s Too Easy Being Green: Defining Fair Green Marketing Practices, addressed consumer interpretation of green marketing claims and the role of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in establishing and enforcing guidelines for fair and effective green marketing practices. In addition to Scott Cooper, ANSI vice president for government relations, testimony was given by:

  • James Kohm, director, enforcement division, FTC
  • M. Scot Case, vice president, TerraChoice, and executive director, EcoLogo Program
  • Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director, technical policy, Consumers Union
  • Dara O’Rourke, Ph.D., associate professor, University of California Berkeley, and co-founder, GoodGuide

Mr. Cooper spoke on ANSI’s role in facilitating public-private partnerships to promote meaningful standards and reliable conformity assessment practices in the sustainability sector. He detailed the work done at the recent ANSI workshop, Toward Product Standards for Sustainability, providing the Committee with the main discussion points and recommendations expressed by attendees at that event. [see related news item]

In addition, Mr. Cooper outlined examples of ANSI’s other issue-driven coordination activities, citing partnerships with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address health information technology; the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to improve toy safety; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense initiative to guide water conservation; and the Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to examine the deployment of new nuclear power plants.

Finally, he underscored the critical importance of conformity assessment activities in the success and credibility of environmental labeling efforts.

“Where consumers see value in ‘going green,’ there is a competitive advantage to those companies that can supply environmentally sustainable products,” explained Mr. Cooper. “But where an advantage can be perceived, there will be those who want to ‘game’ the system. We need to ensure the credibility and consistency of environmental claims.

“ANSI stands ready to help coordinate the public-private partnership and take the next step toward a meaningful solution to the challenges associated with standards and compliance programs that address the environmental and social impacts of products.”

Other expert witnesses discussed the confusion consumers experience in the marketplace with the abundance of labels touting green benefits that are unclear or misleading. Testimony focused on a going-forward strategy to address the appropriate next steps to facilitate green marketing systems that give consumers the information they need while promoting environmentally friendly practices among manufacturers.

A video of the hearing and transcripts of the witnesses’ testimonies are available on the Committee on Energy and Commerce website.

To read Mr. Cooper’s oral testimony on environmental marketing, please click here. ANSI’s full written testimony is also available here.