|Tips for Making Environmental
Marketing Claims on Mail
Jointly produced by the
Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Postal Service
- Make Environmental Claims Specific
- Define Environmental Symbols
- Consider the Overall Message
- Verify Claims in Advance
- Place Claims in Proper Location for Mail Processing
The environment makes
to your customers:
Source: The 1997 Roper Green
You can help the environment by reducing waste, promoting
recycling, and conserving resourcesjust by the way you design your mail.
The U.S. Postal Service wants to prevent waste, improve
recyclability, and increase the recycled content of mail. This brochure tells you how to
make truthful environmental claims about your mail so your customers who care about the
environment will know you care and so your claims won't interfere with USPS mail
processing. The tips are based on the Federal Trade Commission's Guides for the Use of
Environmental Marketing Claims.
|Make Environmental Claims
Be specific. Avoid implying significant
environmental benefit if the benefit is slight. Vague claims, such as environmentally
friendly, earth friendly, or environmentally safe, may lead consumers to believe that the
product has environmental benefits it doesn't actually have. Qualify those terms to
clarify the environmental attribute you are claiming.
Be clear. Use words that consumers
understand. If the words are industry jargonor if they can be
misinterpreteddon't use them.
Be definitive. Your claim should specify
whether the environmental benefit refers to the mailpiece, its contents, or both.
Symbols can help communicate environmental messages to
your customers, but it's important to explain them.
For example, the three-chasing-arrows symbol means that
the mailpiece is both recycled and recyclable. If you want to indicate only one of these
claims, say which one.
When you use the three-chasing-arrows symbol for a
recycled content claim, disclose the percentage, by weight, of the recycled material if it
is less than 100 percent.
You may include the term "postconsumer"
contentpaper recovered after consumers have used itif you can substantiate it.
Your paper supplier must be able to substantiate your claim.
If you use the three-chasing-arrows symbol to indicate
that the product is recyclable, you should be able to substantiate that recycling
collection programs for the particular product are available to a substantial majority of
consumers or communities. If not, qualify the claim with an appropriate statement like
"recyclable in towns with mixed paper recycling."
|Consider the Overall
Make sure that your messagethe symbol
you use or the statement you makeis not misleading.
Even if the exact claim is correct, the
claim may be deceptive if you omit essential information or present facts in a misleading
A claim may be misleading if it implies
something that is not true.
Before you make an environmental claim, make sure it is
correct and can be substantiated.
For example, if you claim that a mailpiece is recyclable,
you must make sure that it can be collected for recycling by a substantial majority of
consumers who receive it. Otherwise, you must qualify your claim with an appropriate
statement like "Collection sites for recycling this mailpiece have been established
in a dozen major metropolitan areas."
|Place Claims in Proper
Location for Mail Processing
Place your claim on the mailpiece so it meets U.S. Postal
Service requirements for mail processing. Keep it out of the postage, return address, and
optical character reader address areas as well as the barcode and remote barcode clear
zones. On the back of the mailpiece, keep it 5/8 inch or more above the bottom. If placing
it on the front of the mailpiece, put it in the far lower left-hand corner, no more than
5/8 inch above the bottom.
To learn more about the Guides for the Use of
Environmental Marketing Claims, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
|You can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the Consumer Response Center by phone: 202-FTC-HELP (382-4357); TDD: 202-326-2502; by mail: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580; or through the Internet, using the online complaint form.
Although the Commission cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations.
The FTC publishes free brochures on many consumer issues. For a complete list of publications, write for Best Sellers, Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580; or call (202) FTC-HELP (382-4357), TDD (202) 326-2502.
For help on putting an environmental claim on your mailpiece, call
the U.S. Postal Service Customer Service Center, 1-800-275-8777, and ask for the Postal Business Center nearest you.