FTC settles with two paint makers on green claims


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionLots of manufacturers offer green paint – no problem there. But two major companies have been advertising lines of paint as environmentally friendly, and the FTC has taken issue and come to an understanding with the companies.

The companies are Sherwin-Williams Company, with a brand line that includes Sherwin-Williams, Dutch Boy, Krylon, Minwax, and Thompson’s WaterSeal; and PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc., with a brand line that includes PPG, Pittsburgh Paints, Porter Paints, Pure Performance Paints and Olympic stain.

At issue is the presence of VOC — volatile organic compounds. Both companies marketed brands claiming no VOCs whatsoever.

FTC said that claim may be true for the base paint, but was not likely to be true once tints have been added. Tinted products are predominately what each company sells, and consumers have almost no chance to guage whether the zero VOC claim was true.

“Environmental claims, like the VOC-free claims in this case, are very difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to confirm,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  “That’s why it’s so important for the FTC to give clear guidance to marketers, like the Commission’s recently revised Green Guides, and to police the market to ensure that consumers actually get what they pay for.”

According to the FTC, the claims were not made over broadcast outlets, but rather through “…brochures, point-of-purchase marketing, product labels, and the Internet.”

The settlement was cash-free. The two companies must cease the current claims, make sure that any claims they do make are thoroughly backed by scientific evidence, and they must refrain from providing distributors with any misleading promotional material.