Relational Integrity Regulation: Nudging Consumers toward Products Bearing Valid Environmental Marketing Claims

By Minneti, Jeffrey J. | Environmental Law, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview
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Relational Integrity Regulation: Nudging Consumers toward Products Bearing Valid Environmental Marketing Claims


Minneti, Jeffrey J., Environmental Law


I.   INTRODUCTION

II.  BUILDING A FRAMEWORK FOR RELATIONAL INTEGRITY REGULATION
     A. Recent Environmental Regulation Scholarship
     B. The Genesis of Relational Integrity Regulation

III. PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ENVIRONMENTAL MARKETING CLAIM REGULATORY
     SCHEMES
     A. Assessment of the United States' Regulation of Environmental
        Marketing Claims
        1. Regulation of Self-Declared Claims: The Green Guides
        2. Eco-labels: Energy Guide and Energy Star
        3. Proposed Eco-Label for Other Environmental Product
        Attributes
     B. Application of Relational Integrity Regulation Criteria to the
        U.S. Environmental Regulatory Scheme
        1. Reflexive.
        2. Preference-Directed
        3. Product- and Process-Based
        4. Personal Norm Activation
     C Application of Relational Integrity Regulation Criteria to the
       Discussion Draft of the Eco-Labeling Act of 2008
        1. Reflexive
        2. Preference-Directed
        3. Product- and Process-Based
        4. Personal Norm Activation
     D. Assessment of the European Union's Regulation of Environmental
        Marketing Claims
        1. The European Union's Eco-Label Scheme
           a. Eco-Label Scope
           b. Eco-Label Actors
           c. Development of Eco-Label Criteria
           d. Adoption of Eco-Label Criteria
        2. Application of the Relational Integrity Regulation Criteria
            to the European Union's Environmental Marketing Claim
            Regulation
           a. Reflexive
           b. Preference-directed
           c. Product- and Process-Based
           d. Personal Norm Activation
     E. Assessment of the International Organization for
        Standardization's Eco-label Efforts
        1. Description of the International Organization for
           Standardization s Environmental Standards
        2. Application of Relational Integrity Criteria to the
           International Organization for Standardization's
           Environmental
           Marketing Claim Standards
           a. Reflexive
           b. Preference-Directed
           c. Product- and Process-Based
           d. Personal Norm Activation
IV.  IMPLICATIONS OF THE APPLICATION OF RELATIONAL INTEGRITY CRITERIA
     TO THE U.S., EU, AND ISO ENVIRONMENTAL MARKETING CLAIM REGULATORY
     SCHEMES
V.   CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Recently, I attended a law school function where clear plastic cups were provided for cold beverages. The cups prominently declared that they were made from corn and were 100% compostable. Intrigued by the cups' claims, I researched NatureWorks LLC, the cups' manufacturer, and learned that the cups are made from Ingeo fiber, which is derived from dextrose, or sugar, found in corn. (1) Nothing on the cup or its packaging indicated that the cup could not be composted in my backyard compost pile. However, the NatureWorks website states that the cups are only compostable in an industrial composting facility. (2) Unfortunately, the nearest industrial composting facility is located in Georgia, approximately four hundred seventy-five miles from where I used the cup. (3) A conversation with the school's purchasing chef indicated that in a campus-wide effort to "go green," the chef is "encouraged" to purchase "green" products for the law school's cafeteria and cafe. When I informed the chef that the "green" cups were not compostable in Florida, the chef shook his head and questioned why he had paid extra for the cups. He noted that the NatureWorks cups costs $0.10 each, but a comparable paper cup costs $0.06.

Aware of the propensity for sellers to make self-declared environmental claims about their products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has promulgated Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides or Guides). (4) The Green Guides include principles, definitions, and illustrations (5) that shed light on the kinds of claims that will not run afoul of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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