October 16, 2014

travel sized bottlesIn an effort to meet the growing preferences of the consumer, many major cosmetics brands have altered their packaging designs to give off an “eco-friendly look.” Brands include adjectives like “biodegradable” and “recyclable” to entice the environmentally conscious customer.

However, brands can’t just put whatever green claims they please on the packaging of their products. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put forth criteria to keep this marketing, as well as marketing for other types of products, truthful. These rules are called the “Green Guides,” and the most popular claims they regulate include:


Consumers display a growing concern that packaging will sit as waste in landfills for years to come. Brands want to market their items as degradable, but it’s actually pretty difficult to prove that a packaging product completely decomposes into natural elements.

The FTC describes qualified “degradable” claims as items that can completely “decompose into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period [one year] of time after customary disposal.” However, most landfills do not provide an environment where products are able to decompose within a year. This makes degradable claims pretty tricky.


Despite what you may think, packaging made of recyclable plastic is not enough to make a recyclable claim. It also depends on the availability of recycling facilities in areas where the product is packaged and sold. Unless recycling facilities are available to the “overwhelming majority” (over 60%) of consumers, qualifying text is required.

Additionally, qualifying text is required if the packaging is not made of 100% recyclable materials. Keep in mind, the universal recycling symbol constitutes making a recyclable claim. For more information about this claim and qualifying text, read this article by BeautyPackaging.com.

General “Environmental” Claims

It’s tough to prove that your product or packaging actually benefits the environment, so it’s recommended that just about all brands stay away from general “eco-friendly” claims.

However, “eco-friendly” claims are not deceptive when they are accompanied by other language that limits the scope of the claim. For example, you can use the phrase alongside a sentence describing how much of the product is recyclable. Of course, you’d have to be able to substantiate the recyclable claim as well.

Who knew taking part in a marketing trend would involve so much? You may feel inclined to look at your green products just a little closer now…