§ 260.15 Renewable energy claims.
(a) It is deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a product or package is made with renewable energy or that a service uses renewable energy. A marketer should not make unqualified renewable energy claims, directly or by implication, if fossil fuel, or electricity derived from fossil fuel, is used to manufacture any part of the advertised item or is used to power any part of the advertised service, unless the marketer has matched such non-renewable energy use with renewable energy certificates.
(b) Research suggests that reasonable consumers may interpret renewable energy claims differently than marketers may intend. Unless marketers have substantiation for all their express and reasonably implied claims, they should clearly and prominently qualify their renewable energy claims. For instance, marketers may minimize the risk of deception by specifying the source of the renewable energy (e.g., wind or solar energy).
(c) It is deceptive to make an unqualified “made with renewable energy” claim unless all, or virtually all, of the significant manufacturing processes involved in making the product or package are powered with renewable energy or non-renewable energy matched by renewable energy certificates. When this is not the case, marketers should clearly and prominently specify the percentage of renewable energy that powered the significant manufacturing processes involved in making the product or package.
(d) If a marketer generates renewable electricity but sells renewable energy certificates for all of that electricity, it would be deceptive for the marketer to represent, directly or by implication, that it uses renewable energy.
A marketer advertises its clothing line as “made with wind power.” The marketer buys wind energy for 50% of the energy it uses to make the clothing in its line. The marketer's claim is deceptive because reasonable consumers likely interpret the claim to mean that the power was composed entirely of renewable energy. If the marketer stated, “We purchase wind energy for half of our manufacturing facilities,” the claim would not be deceptive.
A company purchases renewable energy from a portfolio of sources that includes a mix of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources in combinations and proportions that vary over time. The company uses renewable energy from that portfolio to power all of the significant manufacturing processes involved in making its product. The company advertises its product as “made with renewable energy.” The claim would not be deceptive if the marketer clearly and prominently disclosed all renewable energy sources. Alternatively, the claim would not be deceptive if the marketer clearly and prominently stated, “made from a mix of renewable energy sources,” and specified the renewable source that makes up the greatest percentage of the portfolio. The company may calculate which renewable energy source makes up the greatest percentage of the portfolio on an annual basis.
An automobile company uses 100% non-renewable energy to produce its cars. The company purchases renewable energy certificates to match the non-renewable energy that powers all of the significant manufacturing processes for the seats, but no other parts, of its cars. If the company states, “The seats of our cars are made with renewable energy,” the claim would not be deceptive, as long as the company clearly and prominently qualifies the claim such as by specifying the renewable energy source.
A company uses 100% non-renewable energy to manufacture all parts of its product, but powers the assembly process entirely with renewable energy. If the marketer advertised its product as “assembled using renewable energy,” the claim would not be deceptive.
A toy manufacturer places solar panels on the roof of its plant to generate power, and advertises that its plant is “100% solar-powered.” The manufacturer, however, sells renewable energy certificates based on the renewable attributes of all the power it generates. Even if the manufacturer uses the electricity generated by the solar panels, it has, by selling renewable energy certificates, transferred the right to characterize that electricity as renewable. The manufacturer's claim is therefore deceptive. It also would be deceptive for this manufacturer to advertise that it “hosts” a renewable power facility because reasonable consumers likely interpret this claim to mean that the manufacturer uses renewable energy. It would not be deceptive, however, for the manufacturer to advertise, “We generate renewable energy, but sell all of it to others.”