April 24, 2023
Federal Trade Commission
Office of the Secretary
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite CC–5610 (Annex J)
Washington, DC 20580
Submitted via Federal eRulemaking Portal: Docket No. FTC-2022-0077-0001
Re: globalFACT Comments on Green Guides Review, Matter No. P954501
Dear Mr. Newsome and Ms. Ensor:
On December 20, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (‘‘FTC’’ or ‘‘Commission’’) issued a request for public comment on its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (‘‘Green Guides’’ or ‘‘Guides’’). Pursuant to the Federal Register Notice, the Global Forum for Advanced Climate Technologies (“globalFACT”) respectfully provides its comments concerning the Guides.
globalFACT is a not-for-profit organization that promotes education, awareness, and policies that support the important role of new-generation, low- and reduced-global warming potential (“GWP”) advanced climate technologies (“ACTs”) in protecting the environment while meeting the rapidly increasing demand for safe alternatives in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
The FTC has requested written data, views, and arguments concerning the Green Guides. As revisions are considered and adopted, globalFACT urges the Commission to include additional clarifying language to address certain refrigerants claiming to be “natural.”
Refrigerants marketed as “natural” predominately contain synthetically manufactured and industrial sourced gases such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, or hydrocarbons, which contribute to climate change, ground level smog, water pollution, or air borne particulate matter. These products are not naturally occurring, nor do they come from natural sources; rather, they are industrial chemicals that undergo intensive processing to be brought to refrigerant specifications. For example, hydrocarbons such as propane and butane are produced in oil refineries by “cracking” fossil fuels and separating out various byproducts through distillation.
Hydrocarbons are considered Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), organic molecules that are classified as a pollutant as they produce undesirable effects in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a by-product of various industrial processes and brought to refrigerant specifications by further refining/purification steps [2, 3, 4]. And while ammonia, an inorganic compound, can be produced naturally by decomposition of animal waste, most of the ammonia used industrially is produced by energy intensive chemical processes and is, in fact, synthetic .
It is critical for the Commission to incorporate in its revised Green Guides additional explanatory language or examples to prevent marketers of so-called “natural” refrigerants from misinforming the public. There is precedent for challenges to the use of the term “natural” in the food and cosmetic sectors, among others, to ensure that consumers are not provided misleading information about the risks of these products. As there is no scientific or engineering definition or standard stating exactly what constitutes a “natural” refrigerant, the Commission should include guidance to ensure that any marketing claim accurately reflects the true character of these refrigerants and their impact on the environment.
globalFACT greatly appreciates the opportunity to provide our perspectives and respectfully requests that the FTC take these comments into full consideration when finalizing revised Green Guides in the near future.
Jordan A. Smith