Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods, 44485-44494 [2020-13919]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules Register, the undersigned DOE Federal Register Liaison Officer has been authorized to sign and submit the document in electronic format for publication, as an official document of the Department of Energy. This administrative process in no way alters the legal effect of this document upon publication in the Federal Register. Signed in Washington, DC, on July 8, 2020. Treena V. Garrett, Federal Register Liaison Officer, U.S. Department of Energy. [FR Doc. 2020–15079 Filed 7–22–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 423 Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods Federal Trade Commission. Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: ACTION: The Commission seeks comment on a proposal to repeal its trade regulation rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods as Amended (‘‘Care Labeling Rule’’ or ‘‘Rule’’). DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 21, 2020. Parties interested in an opportunity to present views orally should submit a request to do so as explained below, and such requests must be received on or before September 21, 2020. ADDRESSES: Interested parties may file a comment online or on paper by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Please write ‘‘Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. R511915’’ on your comment, and file your comment online at https:// www.regulations.gov by following the instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, write ‘‘Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. R511915’’ on your comment and on the envelope and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 5610, Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex C), Washington, DC 20024. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hampton Newsome, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326– 2889. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission finds that using streamlined procedures in this rulemaking will serve the public interest. Specifically, such procedures support the Commission’s goals of clarifying, updating, or repealing existing regulations, while ensuring that the public has an opportunity to submit data, views, and arguments on whether the Commission should repeal the Rule. Because written comments should adequately present the views of all interested parties, the Commission is not scheduling a public hearing or roundtable. However, if any person would like to present views orally, he or she should follow the procedures set forth in the DATES, ADDRESSES, and SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION sections of this document. Pursuant to 16 CFR 1.20, the Commission will use the procedures set forth in this document, including: (1) Publishing this Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (‘‘SNPRM’’); (2) soliciting written comments on the Commission’s proposal to repeal or amend the Rule; (3) holding an informal hearing (such as a roundtable) if requested by interested parties; (4) obtaining a final recommendation from staff; and (5) announcing final Commission action in a document published in the Federal Register. Any motions or petitions in connection with this proceeding must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission. I. Introduction The Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers of textile wearing apparel and certain piece goods to attach labels to their products disclosing the care needed for the ordinary use of the product.1 The Rule also requires manufacturers or importers to possess a reasonable basis for care instructions,2 and allows the use of approved care symbols in lieu of words to disclose those instructions.3 The Commission has a long history of seeking comment and considering CFR 423.5 and 423.6(a) and (b). CFR 423.6(c). 3 The Rule provides that the symbol system developed by ASTM International, formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials, and designated as ASTM Standard D5489–96c, ‘‘Guide to Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Consumer Textile Products,’’ may be used on care labels or care instructions in lieu of terms so long as the symbols fulfill the requirements of part 423. 16 CFR 423.8(g). PO 00000 1 16 2 16 Frm 00002 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44485 concerns about the Rule as well as the amendments proposed by the Commission. It promulgated the Rule in 1971 and has amended it three times since.4 In 1983, the Commission clarified its requirements regarding the disclosure of washing and drycleaning information.5 In 1997, the Commission adopted a conditional exemption to allow the use of symbols in lieu of words.6 In 2000, the Commission clarified what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions and revised the Rule’s definitions of ‘‘cold,’’ ‘‘warm,’’ and ‘‘hot’’ water.7 In 2000, the Commission also rejected two proposed amendments. First, it declined to require marketers to provide instructions for home washing on items that one can safely wash at home. The Commission determined that the evidence was not sufficiently compelling to require such instructions and that the benefits of the proposed change were highly uncertain.8 Second, the Commission decided not to establish a definition for ‘‘professional wetcleaning’’ or permit manufacturers to label a garment with a ‘‘Professionally Wetclean’’ instruction.9 The Commission concluded that it was premature to allow such an instruction before the development of a suitable definition and an appropriate test method.10 However, the Commission stated that it would consider such an instruction if a more specific definition and/or test procedure were developed.11 As part of its ongoing regulatory review program, the Commission published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (‘‘ANPR’’) in July 2011 seeking comment on the economic impact of, and the continuing need for, the Rule; the benefits of the Rule to consumers; and any burdens the Rule places on businesses.12 The ANPR also sought comment on whether and how the Rule should address professional 4 36 FR 23883 (Dec. 16, 1971). FR 22733 (May 20, 1983). 6 62 FR 5724 (Feb. 6, 1997). 7 65 FR 47261 (Aug. 2, 2000). 8 Id. at 47269. 9 The Commission initially proposed a definition of professional wetcleaning, stating, in part, that it is a system of cleaning by means of equipment consisting of a computer-controlled washer and dryer, wetcleaning software, and biodegradable chemicals specifically formulated to safely wetclean wool, silk, rayon, and other natural and man-made fibers. Id. at 47271 n. 99. 10 Id. at 47272. The Commission explained that the definition must either describe all important variables in the process, so that manufacturers can determine that the process would not damage the garment, or be coupled with a specific test procedure that manufacturers can use to establish a reasonable basis for the instruction. Id. 11 Id. at 47273. 12 76 FR 41148 (July 13, 2011). 5 48 E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 44486 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS wetcleaning and updated industry standards regarding the use of care symbols, as well as whether the Rule should provide for non-English disclosures. The Commission received 120 comments in response.13 After reviewing these comments, in September of 2012 the Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (‘‘NPRM’’) proposing four amendments.14 Specifically, it proposed: (1) Permitting manufacturers and importers to provide a care instruction for professional wetcleaning on labels if the garment can be professionally wetcleaned; (2) permitting manufacturers and importers to use the symbol system set forth in either ASTM Standard D5489–07, ‘‘Standard Guide for Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products,’’ or ISO 3758:2005(E), ‘‘Textiles—Care labelling code using symbols’’; (3) clarifying what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions; and (4) updating the definition of ‘‘dryclean’’ to reflect then-current practices and technology.15 The Commission received 87 comments in response,16 including one requesting an opportunity to present views orally at a workshop or hearing and several suggesting that the Commission hold a hearing or workshop. Most of these comments also urged the Commission to amend the Rule to require a wetcleaning instruction rather than merely permit one. Accordingly, the Commission conducted a roundtable on March 28, 2014 to provide interested parties with an opportunity to present their views orally pursuant to the procedures set forth in the NPRM.17 The Commission 13 The comments are posted at http:// www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-384. 14 77 FR 58338 (Sept. 20, 2012). 15 The Commission published the NPRM pursuant to Section 18 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (‘‘FTC Act’’), 15 U.S.C. 57, the provisions of Part 1, Subpart B of the Commission’s Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 1.7, and 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. This authority permits the Commission to promulgate, modify, and repeal trade regulation rules that define with specificity acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive in or affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 5(a)(1) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1). 16 The comments are posted at http:// www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-451. 17 The Commission originally scheduled this roundtable on October 1, 2013, see 78 FR 45901 (July 30, 2013); however, it was cancelled due to the government shutdown. The Commission announced the March 28 roundtable in February 2014. See 79 FR 9442 (Feb. 19, 2014). For more information about the roundtable, including the agenda, event materials, a transcript, and video recordings of the roundtable, see http:// www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2014/03/ care-labeling-rule-ftc-roundtable. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 received 19 comments in connection with the roundtable.18 Upon consideration of the substantial record in this rulemaking, the Commission now seeks comment on a proposal to repeal the Rule altogether. As detailed in section III, the record suggests that the Rule may not be necessary to ensure manufacturers provide care instructions, may have failed to keep up with a dynamic marketplace, and may negatively affect the development of new technologies and disclosures. This SNPRM summarizes the comments filed in response to the NPRM, as well as the roundtable and the roundtable comments, and explains the Commission’s proposal. Additionally, it poses questions regarding the proposal and whether informal guidance would be helpful in the absence of the Rule. Finally, this SNPRM addresses procedural matters including communications to Commissioners and their advisors and the requirements under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act. addition, 17 individuals representing a variety of stakeholders participated in the three roundtable discussion groups, which included audience participation. The commenters and roundtable participants (‘‘comments’’ or ‘‘commenters’’) addressed four issues: (1) Professional wetcleaning; (2) use of care symbols; (3) reasonable basis provisions; and (4) the Rule definitions and appendix. II. Summary of Comments and Roundtable The Commission received 106 comments in response to the 2012 NPRM and 2014 roundtable.19 Individuals, many of them professional cleaners, filed the majority of comments. The Commission also received comments from government agencies,20 industry standard-setting and related organizations,21 environmental advocacy organizations,22 equipment manufacturers and solvent suppliers,23 and trade associations representing industries affected by the Rule.24 In 1. Consumer Understanding Regarding Professional Wetcleaning From Dry Cleaning Instructions 18 One comment is posted at http://www.ftc.gov/ policy/public-comments/initiative-489. Eighteen comments are posted at http://www.ftc.gov/policy/ public-comments/initiative-548. 19 The Commission has assigned each comment a number appearing after the name of the commenter and the date of submission. This SNPRM cites comments using the last name of the individual submitter or the name of the organization, followed by the number assigned by the Commission. 20 Two California agencies filed comments: The Air Resources Board (451–70), Department of Toxic Substances Control (451–96). The European Union also filed a comment (451–67). 21 American Association of Textile Chemists & Colorists (AATCC) (548–15), ASTM International (451–77), and Ginetex (451–37), which is responsible for the care labeling system used in European countries. 22 The Toxic Use Reduction Institute (‘‘TURI’’) (451–54 and 548–28), UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (451–87 and 548–27). 23 E.g., Miele (451–68, 72 and 76) and GreenEarth Cleaning (451–41 and 548–9 and 17). 24 American Apparel & Footwear Association (451–88 and 548–26), Drycleaning & Laundry PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 A. Professional Wetcleaning Commenters addressed a variety of issues relating to wetcleaning, including: (1) The dryclean instructions on many labels, which some commenters claimed are unfair or deceptive; (2) the environmental and health benefits of wetcleaning; (3) the relative cost of wetcleaning and drycleaning; (4) the cost of substantiating wetcleaning instructions; (5) consumer access to, and preferences regarding, wetcleaning; (6) the content of wetcleaning instructions; and (7) whether the Rule should permit or require a wetcleaning instruction. Several commenters maintained that the current dryclean instruction is deceptive and unfair because they argue that it implies that drycleaning is the only safe and effective cleaning method, when, in fact, wetcleaning may be an effective, alternative method of cleaning.25 The Rule currently allows marketers to provide a dryclean instruction on a label if they have a reasonable basis to believe that drycleaning is a safe and effective cleaning method. Drycleaning need not be the only, or even the best, method of cleaning the item. Some commenters contended, however, that contrary to the Rule’s intent empirical and anecdotal evidence indicates many consumers misunderstand the dryclean instruction to mean that drycleaning is either the Institute (451–71), The Hosiery Association (541– 69), International Drycleaners Congress (451–32), National Cleaners Association (451–98 and 548–22), Professional Leather Cleaners Association (451–84 and 548–14), Professional Wet Cleaners Association (451–59 and 548–18), United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USA–ITA) (451– 73). 25 See roundtable presentation by Peter Sinsheimer from UCLA, available at http:// www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/ 114528/march_28_sinsheimer_ftc_presentation.pdf; Sinsheimer (548–27), Huie (548–12) (dryclean instruction deceptive because implies dryclean only), Roh (548–5) (dryclean instruction deceptive unless wetclean instruction mandated); Roundtable Transcript at 9 and 12–18. E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS only or the recommended cleaning method. Peter Sinsheimer from UCLA submitted an online consumer study by Harris Interactive to support his contention that the Rule’s dryclean instruction is deceptive and unfair.26 The study, conducted in September 2013 using close-ended questions, involved 2,000 adults. According to Sinsheimer, about 89% of the study respondents interpreted ‘‘dryclean’’ to mean that drycleaning is the only, or the recommended, cleaning method.27 Only about 7% understood ‘‘dryclean’’ to mean that drycleaning is just one reliable method for cleaning the item. Several other commenters also asserted that consumers misinterpret the dryclean instruction. For example, one trade association stated that many, if not all, consumers interpret the dryclean label as ‘‘do not wash.’’ 28 In addition, two consumer surveys considered by the Commission during the last Rule review yielded results consistent with the Harris Interactive online survey. One 1998 survey showed that 73.2% of the consumers surveyed interpreted ‘‘dryclean’’ to mean that the item must be drycleaned, professionally cleaned, or otherwise specially taken care of. 29 A second survey of female heads of household who do laundry showed that 44% interpreted ‘‘dryclean’’ to mean that drycleaning is the only acceptable way to clean the item.30 Commenters generally agreed that a substantial number of garments labeled ‘‘dryclean’’ or ‘‘dryclean only’’ can be professionally wetcleaned, although they disagreed on the percentage. Sinsheimer cited studies showing that 99% of these items can be wetcleaned.31 Professional wetcleaners also indicated that a very high percentage of these textiles can be wetcleaned, including 26 See Sinsheimer roundtable presentation, available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/ documents/public_events/114528/march_28_ sinsheimer_ftc_presentation.pdf; Sinsheimer (548– 27); Roundtable Transcript at 9 and 17–18. The Commission has concerns about certain methodological limitations of the study that reduce its probative value, discussed in greater detail in section III.A.2. 27 Specifically, 42% of the respondents interpreted ‘‘dryclean’’ to mean that drycleaning is the only method for cleaning the item (Q3010). Additionally, 47% of respondents interpreted ‘‘dryclean’’ to mean it is the recommended cleaning method. 28 DLI (451–71). 29 65 FR at 47268. Despite this interpretation of the dryclean instruction, 49% said they had washed or laundered items labeled ‘‘dryclean.’’ Of these consumers, 63.4% were satisfied with the results, and 11.1% were sometimes satisfied. Id. 30 Id. 31 Roundtable Transcript at 17–18. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 those containing wool and cashmere.32 Other commenters asserted that wetcleaning is not necessarily suitable for certain types of fibers (e.g., pure wool) and stains (e.g., water soluble stains can be wetcleaned while other types of stains such as grease may require drycleaning) and can lead to loss of color, bleeding, shrinkage, and undesired changes in an item’s surface character.33 None of the commenters disputed that wetcleaning is a viable method of cleaning and an effective alternative to drycleaning in at least some instances. 2. Environmental and Health Issues Some commenters contended that wetcleaning is always better for the environment and human health than drycleaning. Others asserted that drycleaning is comparable or superior under some circumstances. Both roundtable presentations addressed this issue, as did a number of the commenters. Government agencies, environmental advocacy organizations, and professional wetcleaners touted the environmental and health benefits of wetcleaning. Paul Matthai, a senior regulatory analyst for the Pollution Prevention Division/Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (PPD/OPPT) at the EPA opined that wetcleaning is ‘‘inherently environmentally preferable’’ to drycleaning.34 Sinsheimer stated that the vast majority of drycleaners in the United States operate machines with perchloroethylene (‘‘perc’’), a chemical listed in the Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant and a leading source of soil and drinking water contamination.35 Two California government agencies 36 and a second environmental advocacy organization 37 also asserted that perc causes soil and groundwater contamination while professional wetcleaning uses less energy and water, and improves air quality and employee health.38 In December 2007, the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation eliminating the use of perc in drycleaning by 2023.39 Joy Onasch of 32 E.g., Chang (451–60), PWA (451–59) (99.9% can be wetcleaned); Roundtable Transcript at 47– 49. 33 See roundtable presentation by Professor Riggs of Texas Woman’s University, available at http:// www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/ 114528/charles_riggs_presentation_ftc.pptx; and Roundtable Transcript at 27–31, 43, 58, and 65–66. 34 Roundtable Transcript at 60. 35 Sinsheimer (451–87). 36 Air Resources Board (451–70) and Department of Toxic Substances Control (451–96). 37 TURI (451–54 and 548–28). 38 Roundtable Transcript at 45, 56, 60–64. 39 Air Resources Board (451–70). PO 00000 Frm 00004 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44487 the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (‘‘TURI’’) asserted that hydrocarbons and other perc alternatives have significant environmental and health hazards such as increased emissions of volatile organic compounds, fire, groundwater contamination, and potential adverse human health effects.40 A number of professional wetcleaners favored wetcleaning due to concerns about toxic or unhealthy drycleaning solvents.41 Other commenters disputed these claims. Charles Riggs of Texas Woman’s University stated that modern drycleaning equipment filters and then reuses solvents until they can be disposed of. He also asserted that wetcleaning discharges water containing detergents as well as more aggressive spot cleaning solvents into the sewage system.42 Mary Scalco of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute (‘‘DLI’’) asserted that wetcleaning may be no more environmentally friendly than drycleaning, depending on the equipment and drycleaning solvent used.43 Ann Hargrove of the National Cleaners Association (‘‘NCA’’) asserted that some wetcleaners are not allowed to use the septic system because they used dry solvents that ended up in the water.44 Another commenter stated that wetcleaning consumes significantly more water than drycleaning and can lead to the discharge of solvents into the sewer.45 3. Wetcleaning and Drycleaning Service Costs Some commenters contended that wetcleaning costs no more than drycleaning, while others explained that costs depend on many factors, including the type and age of equipment and solvents used. Sinsheimer, Onasch, and Juli Mo of the Professional Wetcleaners Association cited research and anecdotal evidence that wetcleaning is either less expensive or at least does not cost more than drycleaning.46 For example, Onasch reported that several cleaners in Massachusetts did not raise their prices after switching from perc drycleaning to wetcleaning.47 A June 2012 report submitted by TURI estimated that the average cost per pound for wetcleaning was $1.10; it also 40 TURI (451–54). PWA (548–59 and 60), Mo (548–19). 42 Riggs Roundtable PowerPoint presentation; Roundtable Transcript at 34–37. 43 Roundtable Transcript at 54–55 and 59. 44 Id. at 58. 45 Sitz (548–6). 46 Sinsheimer roundtable power point presentation; Roundtable Transcript at 19, 67, and 69–70. 47 Roundtable Transcript at 70. 41 E.g., E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 44488 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules estimated the cost was $1.02 for perc and $0.88 for high-flash hydrocarbons, two types of drycleaning solvents.48 Onasch of TURI asserted that data since 2012 shows that wetcleaning does not cost more than drycleaning.49 Riggs stated that service prices vary not only by the technology used to clean, but also the price range of the garments cleaned and the age of the equipment.50 4. Substantiation Costs Commenters disagreed about the cost of substantiating wetcleaning instructions and the potential burden associated with commenter proposals to require manufacturers to provide a wetcleaning instruction. Sinsheimer contended that his survey of professional wetcleaners shows that they can determine whether an item can be wetcleaned for an average cost of $50–$100 if testing is needed.51 In contrast, Scalco contended that DLI provides comprehensive testing for washing, drycleaning, and wetcleaning instructions for about $1,400, and that wetcleaning testing costs about $467.52 Other commenters, including Riggs, Marie D’Avignon of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, and Adam Mansell of the United Kingdom Fashion and Textile Association, disputed Sinsheimer’s contention that requiring a wetcleaning instruction would not entail significant or burdensome costs for manufacturers.53 5. Consumer Access and Preferences Commenters who addressed consumers’ desire for wet cleaning asserted that at least some consumers would prefer wetcleaning but not all consumers have access to it. As noted earlier, some commenters presented evidence that many consumers would prefer wetcleaning if they knew of the option and the quality and cost were comparable.54 Similarly, professional wetcleaners asserted that many cleaners and consumers prefer wetcleaning.55 None of the commenters disputed this contention, however GreenEarth noted that recent Google search data suggests far less interest in wetcleaning than drycleaning.56 48 TURI (451–54); Roundtable Transcript at 66. Transcript at 67–68. 50 Id. at 68 and 71–72. 51 Sinsheimer roundtable PowerPoint presentation; Roundtable Transcript at 18. 52 Roundtable Transcript at 78–79. 53 Id. at 43–44, 75–77 and 81; AAFA (48–26). 54 See Sinsheimer roundtable presentation, available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/ documents/public_events/114528/march_28_ sinsheimer_ftc_presentation.pdf; Sinsheimer (548– 27); Roundtable Transcript at 14. 55 E.g., PWA (548–59 and 60), Mo (548–19). 56 GreenEarth (548–9 at 3). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 49 Roundtable VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 Commenters also agreed that not all consumers have access to wetcleaning, particularly in certain regions of the country. GreenEarth added that the limited number of cleaners in the Professional Wetcleaners Directory suggests that drycleaning services are much more accessible than wetcleaning services and that wetcleaners tend to be concentrated on the East and West Coasts. Sinsheimer described this as a ‘‘chicken and egg’’ problem, arguing that the absence of a wetcleaning instruction on labels is an enormous barrier to the diffusion of wetcleaning services.57 6. Content of Wetcleaning Instructions Many commenters favored a ‘‘professionally wetclean’’ instruction because they asserted that consumers might misinterpret a ‘‘wetclean’’ instruction to mean home washing.58 None preferred ‘‘wetclean’’ to ‘‘professionally wetclean.’’ Some also urged the Commission to require a ‘‘do not wash’’ warning—where warranted— to minimize the risk that consumers will misunderstand a care instruction and inadvertently damage a garment that is labeled for wetcleaning by laundering it.59 7. Whether To Permit or Require a Wetcleaning Instruction on Items That Can Be Wetcleaned Commenters disagreed on whether the Commission should require or, as the Commission proposed, permit a wetcleaning instruction. Sinsheimer, Onasch, Mo, California government agencies, many members of the wetcleaning industry, and some consumers urged the Commission to require a wetcleaning instruction.60 In contrast, Riggs, D’Avignon, Mansell, Scalco, and many members of the drycleaning industry favored permitting a wetcleaning instruction.61 Transcript at 91. Brown (451–11), Camerino (451–14), Chen (451–17), Culotta (451–56), Daniel (451–42), DLI (451–71), Ocampo (451–52), Feingold (548–7), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–9 at 3), Park (451–95), Blacker (451–82), Knox (451–65), Yerby (451–55), Peterson (451–39), Kinzer (451–36), Veach (451– 31), Shaffer (451–30), Woodruff (451–27), Wentworth (451–26), Laramee (451–13), Mishann (451–12), Staal (451–9), Johnson (451–6); Roundtable Transcript at 95–98. 59 E.g., Chen (451–17), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–9 at 3), Shaffer (451–30), Woodruff (451–27), Laramee (451–13). 60 E.g., Sinsheimer Roundtable presentation, California Air Resources Board (451–70), California Department of Toxic Substances Control (451–96), Yim (451–83), Feingold (548–7), Huie (451–80 and 548–12), Mo (451–79), Miele (451–68 and 76), Onasch (451–54), Ornholmer (451–66), PWA (451– 59), Roh (451–75 and 548–21), Sung (451–74); Roundtable Transcript 19–20 and 85. 61 E.g., AAFA (451–88), Behzadi (451–88), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–9 at 3), International PO 00000 57 Roundtable 58 E.g., Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 B. Use of Care Symbols Commenters addressed: (1) The use of ASTM and ISO symbols; (2) the differences between the 2005 and 2012 ISO symbols; (3) concerns about the Rule specifying the year of the permitted ASTM or ISO symbol system; (4) the timing of future symbol system changes; and (5) consumer understanding of symbols. 1. ASTM vs. ISO Symbols Commenters addressing the issue urged the Commission to modify the Rule to allow for the use of updated ASTM symbols, and most supported amending the Rule to permit the use of ISO symbols, and either supported, or did not object to, retaining the option of using ASTM symbols.62 These commenters explained that manufacturers commonly use ISO symbols in other countries; therefore, allowing their use in the United States would increase flexibility and reduce labeling costs. None of the commenters viewed the differences between the ISO and ASTM symbols as a problem, with the exception of natural drying symbols discussed further below.63 In addition, commenters opposed the Commission’s proposal to require labels to identify the symbols as ISO-based.64 None believed that identifying the ISO system on labels would help consumers, and many noted that requiring this disclosure would impose unnecessary costs on manufacturers. 2. Differences Between the 2005 and 2012 ISO Symbols Nearly all relevant commenters favored the 2012 ISO symbols.65 They noted that manufacturers use the current 2012 ISO symbols and use of the 2005 symbols would therefore impose unnecessary costs. In addition, three commenters explained that either the key differences between the 2012 and 2005 ISO standards are minor, or the Drycleaners Congress (451–32), NCA (451–98 and 548–22); Roundtable Transcript at 42–44, 46–47, and 51. 62 E.g., AAFA (451–88 and 548–26), European Union (451–67), Ginetex (451–37), GreenEarth (451–41), International Drycleaners Congress (451– 32), Kyllo (451–78), Knox (451–65), Lee (451–51), Poggi (451–4), and USA–ITA (451–73); and Roundtable Transcript at 122–23, 163–64, and 171. 63 Roundtable Transcript at 120–21. 64 E.g., European Union (451–67), GreenEarth (548–9), Kyllo (451–78); Roundtable Transcript at 130–136, 168–170 and 175–176. 65 E.g., AAFA (451–88 and 548–26), Bide (451– 48), Dr<jdahl (451–53), European Union (451–67), Ginetex (451–37), GreenEarth (451–41), Kyllo (451– 78), International Drycleaners Congress (451–32), and Poggi (451–4); Roundtable Transcript at 125– 26 and 140. E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules 2012 standard is an improvement.66 Some noted that, unlike the 2005 symbols, the 2012 symbols include natural drying symbols that differ from the ASTM natural drying symbols. Two commenters supported allowing use of the 2012 ISO symbols in lieu of written terms, except for the natural drying symbols. They contended these drying symbols are confusing, seldom used in the United States, or differ from ASTM symbols.67 3. Recognizing ASTM and ISO Standards Without Identifying the Year Some commenters advocated allowing the most recent ASTM and ISO symbol systems without specifying the year or version of the standards.68 They asserted that it takes too long for the Commission to update the Rule once the ASTM or ISO symbol system changes, creating problems for marketers.69 4. Timeline for ASTM and ISO Updates Both ASTM and ISO have updated their care labeling symbol systems since the Commission initiated its review of the Care Labeling Rule. ASTM most recently updated its care labeling system in 2018, while ISO updated its system in 2012. Several commenters expressed concern that the ASTM and ISO symbol systems have not adequately addressed drycleaning solvents other than perc and petroleum.70 In its comment on the ANPR, Ginetex urged the Commission to repeal the Rule in part due to the difficulty of keeping up with market developments and innovations. Specifically, it argued that the Rule should not be mandatory because a voluntary scheme could better adapt to technical and environmental developments.71 Others noted that Canada and European nations do not require care labeling instructions.72 Finally, some commenters urged the Commission to review the Rule more frequently to help keep up with changes in the marketplace and ASTM and ISO standards.73 One explained that, for many years, the industry and technology were relatively static,74 but recently there has been a lot of change, with more expected. If the Commission plans to continue regulating care labels, another urged the Commission staff to attend ISO, ASTM, and American Association of Textile Chemists & Colorists (‘‘AATCC’’) meetings to keep abreast of industry changes.75 5. Consumer Understanding of Symbols Several commenters opined that many consumers do not understand all of the care symbols currently in use.76 As a result, they opposed allowing the use of any symbols.77 Still others contended that using both ASTM and ISO symbols will likely cause consumer confusion.78 Others expressed concern that consumers may not understand some symbols, but nonetheless favored allowing their use. They explained that consumers understand the most relevant symbols (e.g., washing, ironing, and professional care symbols), and professional cleaners will know the rest.79 Moreover, some consumers prefer written terms to symbols, possibly because they do not understand the symbols. For example, J.C. Penney reported that its customers complained when it tried to use only symbols with one brand.80 However, none of the roundtable participants that expressed concern about consumer understanding of symbols opposed allowing the use of symbols to provide care instructions. In addition, several noted that the majority of labels in the United States already use symbols in addition to, or in lieu of, written instructions.81 C. Reasonable Basis Provisions Commenters addressed a variety of issues relating to the Rule’s reasonable basis provision, including the Commission’s proposal, Green Earth’s proposal, and whether, and to what extent, the Rule should require the 73 Id. at 225–26. at 229–30. 75 Id. at 226–28. 76 E.g., GreenEarth (548–9), Huie (548–12); Roundtable Transcript at 94–95, 123–27, 146, 157– 58, and 166. 77 E.g., Daniel (451–42), The Hosiery Association (451–69), Slan (451–57), Patel (451–40), Kinzer (451–36), Reiner (451–25), Pflueger (451–5). 78 E.g., DLI (451–71) and Keyes (451–64); Roundtable Transcript at 119–120 and 122. 79 Roundtable Transcript at 126–27 and 146–47. 80 Id. at 170–71. Given the context of the Workshop remarks (‘‘We did try one brand, specifically in our intimates, to just use the symbols and our customers complained so much about it, they had no idea’’), it appears that JCPenney discontinued the symbol-only practice for the brand in question. 81 Id. at 131. 74 Id. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 66 GreenEarth (548–9), Roundtable Transcript at 132–33. 67 GreenEarth (548–9); Roundtable Transcript at 151. 68 E.g., AAFA (451–88 and 548–26), Kyllo (451– 78), Keyes (451–64); Roundtable Transcript at 144– 45. 69 Roundtable Transcript at 130, 144–45, 162, and 173–75. 70 E.g., Brown (451–11), Camerino (451–14), Daniel (451–42), Douglas (451–33), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–9), Slan (451–57). ASTM updated its symbol system in 2014 to provide that the letter ‘‘F’’ enclosed in the circle symbol represents drycleaning in hydrocarbon or silicone solvent but not perc solvent. 71 Ginetex (384–39). 72 Roundtable Transcript at 175. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44489 testing of entire products to substantiate care instructions. 1. Commission Proposal In 2012, the Commission proposed clarifying the Rule’s reasonable basis requirement by incorporating examples of instances where testing an entire garment may be needed to determine care instructions, and where such testing is not needed. Commenters generally favored the Commission’s proposal. All of the commenters addressing the issue supported clarifying the reasonable basis provision, and either supported the proposal 82 or urged the Commission to provide more clarification and additional examples.83 Commenters identified materials and components possibly warranting testing when combined with other materials or components, including elastic, spandex, vinyl, acetates, triacetates, polyurethane, silks, leather, metallic, and plasticizers, along with components not easily removed, including beads, buttons, sequins, and interfacings.84 None opposed the Commission’s proposal. 2. GreenEarth Proposal GreenEarth agreed with the Commission’s proposal but also suggested listing additional examples that may require testing, such as garments containing: (1) Sizings, elastics, vinyl, acetates, triacetates, polyurethanes, silks, natural skins, or other plasticizers known to be damaged in drycleaning; and (2) water soluble dyes, wool, natural fiber, or skins when wetcleaning is recommended. No commenters expressed support for, or opposition to, GreenEarth’s proposal. However, as noted above, many commenters identified similar issues. 3. Testing of Entire Garments vs. Components Commenters disagreed on the extent to which manufacturers need to test entire items. Some identified situations where such testing would be necessary, such as white and black spandex, where 82 E.g., AAFA (451–88 and 548–26), DLI (541–71), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–9), Knox (451–65), and NCA (451–98); Roundtable Transcript at 179– 185. 83 E.g., Brown (451–11), Chen (451–17), DLI (541– 71), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–9), Feingold (548– 7), International Drycleaners Congress (451–32), Kinzer (451–36), Knox (451–65), Laramee (451–13), Patel (451–40), Shaffer (451–30), Sitz (548–6), Staal (451–9), Viezcas (451–10), and Yerby (451–55); Roundtable Transcript at 185–186. 84 Id. E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 44490 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules dye bleed is an issue.85 NCA and others explained that the aggressiveness of the drycleaning solvent is not the only factor that may require testing because less aggressive solvents can be heated to enhance their aggressiveness, and longer cleaning and drying cycles result in more aggressive mechanical action.86 Manufacturers, however, indicated that testing entire items is often unnecessary and would entail excessive costs.87 For example, one said that it tests fabrics as necessary rather than finished garments and solicits information from suppliers about how their trim reacts to certain chemicals.88 D. Rule Definitions and Appendix Commenters addressed a variety of issues relating to the Rule’s definitions and Appendix, including the Commission’s proposal to amend the definition of drycleaning, the Appendix’s provision on leather care instructions, and the Rule’s definitions of hot, warm, and cold water. 1. Drycleaning Definition Revisions Commenters generally favored the Commission’s proposal, although they disagreed on whether to list specific solvents in the drycleaning definition. All relevant commenters favored updating the definition by clarifying that it includes solvents other than water (non-aqueous solvents) and dropping the term ‘‘organic’’ and the reference to fluorocarbons (a solvent no longer in use).89 They disagreed on whether to list examples of current drycleaning solvents. Some supported the proposal to update the list. Others expressed concern that any list would be misinterpreted as complete, rather than illustrative. Therefore, they stated that the list might discourage innovation and the use of new solvents.90 Some expressed concerns about including solvents rarely used, such as aldehyde, or solvents that cleaners may stop using in the future.91 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 2. Leather Instruction Commenters also disagreed on the need to amend the Rule’s Appendix on leather care instructions. Dart Poach of 85 E.g., Anderson (548–13), Feingold (548–7), GreenEarth (548–9 and 548–17), and Sitz (548–6); Roundtable Transcript at 185–186. 86 E.g., NCA (548–22); Roundtable Transcript at 142–4. 87 E.g., AAFA (548–26); Roundtable Transcript at 186–88. 88 E.g., Roundtable Transcript at 187–88. 89 AAFA (451–88), DLI (451–71), GreenEarth (451–41 and 548–17), Knox (451–65), NCA (451– 98); Roundtable Transcript at 209–11. 90 Roundtable Transcript at 212–13. 91 Blacker (451–82); Roundtable Transcript at 211–12. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 the Professional Leather Cleaners Association (‘‘PLCA’’) urged the Commission to amend this provision so the instruction addresses professional refinishing.92 Specifically, PLCA proposed the instruction ‘‘Leather Clean and Refinish by Professional Leather Cleaner Only’’ because many textile products with leather components need professional leather refinishing as well as professional leather cleaning. In addition, several commenters urged the Commission to amend the Rule’s reasonable basis provision to address leather care.93 Other commenters questioned the need for the proposed amendment because they have not received consumer complaints or otherwise seen a problem.94 For example, one stated that with the advent of more gentle alternatives to perc, many items with leather trim do not need refinishing.95 No other commenters supported the amendment proposed by PLCA. 3. Water Temperature Issues Commenters disagreed on whether the Commission should amend the Rule to incorporate the AATCC’s most recent definitions of hot, warm, and cold water used in testing. AATCC explained that its new temperature ranges fall within those in the Rule, and therefore the Commission does not need to revise them.96 Instead, AATCC proposed adding a new provision stating: The Standardization of Home Laundry Test Conditions Monograph (M6) developed by American Association of Textile Chemist & Colorists (AATCC) may be used as a supplement to refer [to] a range of washing temperatures available in today’s consumer laundering machines. It should be noted that these temperatures fall within the tolerance range specified in section 423.2(d) of 16 CFR [sic]. This monograph may be obtained from the AATCC website: http://www.aatcc.org/ testing/supplies/docs/205-M06.pdf or may be reviewed at the Federal Trade Commission, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC. Several commenters disagreed, arguing that the Rule’s temperatures should match those specified for testing, even though consumers’ laundry temperatures vary significantly based on location, season, and heater settings.97 92 PLCA (451–84 and 548–14); Roundtable Transcript at 182, 200, 202–03, and 208–09. 93 E.g., Laramee (451–13), Staal (451–9), and Viezcas (451–10). 94 Roundtable Transcript at 202 and 205–08. 95 Id. at 205. 96 AATCC (548–15); Roundtable Transcript at 192–94. 97 Roundtable Transcript at 191–92 and 195–198. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 III. Proposed Repeal Section 18 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 57a, authorizes the Commission to promulgate, amend, and repeal trade regulation rules that define with specificity acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive in or affecting commerce within the meaning of section 5(a)(1) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1). The Commission regularly reviews its rules to ensure they are upto-date, effective, and not overly burdensome, and has repealed a number of trade regulation rules after finding they were no longer necessary to protect consumers.98 Comments in the record suggest that current conditions support repealing the Rule. Specifically, the record suggests that the existing Rule may no longer be necessary because manufacturers, in the absence of the Rule, are likely to provide accurate care information to consumers as a matter of course.99 Additionally, the Rule may have failed to keep up with a dynamic marketplace. The record also raises concerns that the Rule may have a negative impact on innovation, particularly in the development and adoption of cleaning technologies and disclosures. Finally, repeal would provide manufacturers with additional flexibility in labeling and address concerns raised by some commenters that the Rule mandates care disclosures that may be confusing to some consumers. To the extent that confusion about currently mandated care disclosures may exist, labelers will be incentivized by competitive pressure, rather than compelled by the Rule, to respond to consumer demand for better disclosures. In light of these considerations, the Commission seeks comment on the costs and benefits of repealing the Rule. The Commission emphasizes that, even if it repeals the 98 See, e.g., 16 CFR part 410 (television screen sizes) (83 FR 50484 (Oct. 19, 2018)) (rule unnecessary; lack of deceptive claims); 16 CFR part 419 (games of chance) (61 FR 68143 (Dec. 27, 1996)) (Rule outdated; violations largely non-existent; and Rule has adverse business impact); 16 CFR part 406 (used lubricating oil) (61 FR 55095 (Oct. 24, 1996)) (Rule no longer necessary, and repeal will eliminate unnecessary duplication); 16 CFR part 405 (leather content of belts) (61 FR 25560 (May 22, 1996)) (Rule unnecessary and duplicative; Rule’s objective can be addressed through guidance and case-by-case enforcement); and 16 CFR part 402 (binoculars) (60 FR 65529 (Dec. 20, 1995)) (technological improvements render Rule obsolete). 99 Although commenters in this proceeding did not provide substantial information about the prevalence of deceptive practices in the current marketplace, no commenter indicated that the market is free of deception. In response to the ANPR, for instance, a few indicated that some noncompliant parties appear to be misinformed or to misunderstand the requirements. Textile Industry Affairs (384–112) and The Clorox Company (384– 122). E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules Rule, Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45(a)) would continue to prohibit manufacturers from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices in labeling. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS A. The Rule May Be Unnecessary The record suggests that a legal mandate may not be necessary to ensure manufacturers provide clear, accurate care instructions on garments. Notably, most European Union nations and Canada have voluntary care instruction systems and, according to the record, manufacturers in those markets voluntarily provide cleaning instructions on a routine basis.100 Moreover, the record also suggests that market demand for clear care labels in the U.S. is sufficient to motivate marketers to provide them. For example, a representative for JCPenney reported that consumer outcry was substantial when the company tried to sell one of its brands without word-based care instructions, apparently leading the company to discontinue the practice.101 This result is not surprising. Consumers need to clean their clothes and want to do so without ruining their investment, particularly when that investment is significant. Manufacturers who do not provide cleaning instructions will likely disappoint consumers and lose sales. The J.C. Penney example demonstrates this point.102 Therefore, market forces appear to be sufficient to ensure that manufacturers provide cleaning instructions to their consumers without a regulatory requirement. Accordingly, the Rule’s repeal appears unlikely to have any significant negative impact on 100 Care labeling is voluntary in Canada and most of Europe; see Roundtable Transcript at 175 (indicating that care labeling is voluntary in Europe and Canada) and Ginetex (384–83) (urging the Commission to consider a voluntary approach). See also Feltham, T., Martin, L. (2006, June) ‘‘Apparel Care Labels: Understanding Consumers’ Use of Information,’’ https://www.researchgate.net/ publication/228295594_Apparel_Care_Labels_ Understanding_Consumers’_Use_of_Information (‘‘Even though the care labeling (in Canada) is voluntary, consumers see care labels on almost all garments purchased in Canada’’); and ‘‘European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry Study of the need and options for the harmonisation of the labelling of textile and clothing products,’’ 24 January 2013, Final Report, Matrix Insight Ltd., at 43–44, available at ec. europa.eu/DocsRoom/ documents/10480/attachments/1/translations/en/ renditions/native. 101 Roundtable Transcript at 170–171. 102 Moreover, if a manufacturer provides no cleaning information, failing to warn that a method a consumer could reasonably assume would be a safe method would in fact harm the garment, the manufacturer could be in violation of Section 5 and subject to a Commission law enforcement action. See, e.g., Int’l Harvester, 104 F.T.C. 949, 1058 (1984) (‘‘It can also be deceptive for a seller to simply remain silent, if he does so under circumstances that constitute an implied but false representation.’’). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 care information currently available to consumers. Moreover, mandatory care labeling instructions for all garments may impose unnecessary compliance costs on manufacturers. With mandatory instructions, manufacturers bear the cost of providing instructions on all garments. However, there is no indication that every type of garment needs instructions to ensure proper cleaning. For example, consumers may not need instructions for basic cotton tshirts. Without mandatory instructions, manufacturers likely would provide care instructions for garments only if consumer demand warranted, thereby avoiding those costs when care instructions are not necessary for consumers. B. Keeping Up With Marketplace Changes As some commenters discussed (section II.A. and B.), the Rule does not appear to have kept pace with advances in cleaning technology and care symbol revisions. Specifically, although the option of wetcleaning has been available in the marketplace for many years, the Rule still does not allow manufactures to present that option on labels. Moreover, the Rule currently incorporates a symbol system (ASTM D5489–96c) that has been superseded. Repeal would remove the confusion caused by outdated Rule provisions, as well as the need to update provisions constantly to address market changes.103 C. Potential Negative Impacts on Innovation Repeal would also eliminate any possibility the Rule negatively affects market innovation. Over the course of the proceeding, some commenters suggested that the Rule might have had a negative impact on the adoption of new cleaning technologies. For example, commenters and workshop participants explained that the Rule’s failure to address wetcleaning has placed professional wetcleaners at a competitive disadvantage and discouraged greater use of that technology. PWA explained, ‘‘we cannot market our services as ‘Professional Wet Cleaning’ because the care label says Dry Cleaning.’’ Comments from wetcleaning equipment makers also raised concerns about the Rule’s impact. For example, a representative for wetcleaning system developer Kreussler suggested the Rule language might 103 In its comments (384–83), Ginetex argued that a voluntary scheme could better adapt to technical and environmental developments. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44491 prohibit innovation.104 Some nonindustry commenters raised similar concerns. Sinsheimer stated that if ‘‘the wet cleaning care label is not on the garment . . . that is an enormous barrier to the diffusion’’ of wetcleaning services. In addition, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute asserted that the current Rule ‘‘is limiting the spread of this safer technology [wetcleaning].’’ 105 The commenters also suggested the Rule has limited the use of newer solvents in drycleaning.106 At the same time, countervailing market trends unrelated to labeling may have contributed to the lack of adoption of new cleaning technologies identified by these commenters. Specifically, an overall decline in the demand for professional cleaning may have affected the adoption of new technologies, driven by factors such as the increased wear of casual workplace clothing, reduced smoking, and the use of ‘‘wrinkle free’’ clothing that consumers can wash at home.107 Nevertheless, repeal would eliminate any negative impacts the Rule may have on innovation in cleaning and disclosures.108 Finally, as noted above, several commenters provided empirical and anecdotal evidence suggesting that the Rule’s prescribed ‘‘dryclean’’ instruction may create confusion among some 104 Roundtable Transcript at 156 (Fitzpatrick). Transcript at 91 (Sinsheimer); and Toxics Use Reduction Institute (394–86). See also, PWA (451–59), Miele (384–108), and San Francisco Department of the Environment (384–89). PWA also argued that labeling garments ‘‘Dry Clean’’ or ‘‘Dry Clean Only’’ even though they can be successfully wetcleaned is unfair to professional wetcleaners. If a consumer prefers to dryclean such garments, the wetcleaner faces the prospect of losing the business or deceiving the consumer by wetcleaning instead of drycleaning such garments. The dilemma of either lying to the customer or potentially losing business makes professional wetcleaning unappealing to many drycleaners. PWA (384–102). 106 Earlier in the proceeding, several commenters argued the Rule’s restrictive ‘‘dryclean’’ definition discourages the use of solvents not recognized by the Rule and, therefore, risks curtailing technological advancement. See 77 FR at 58342–3 and 58347 (citing to comments Bromagen (384–91); Hagearty (384–61); Preece (384–54); and Yazdani (384–78)). More recent comments and statements at the Roundtable echoed these concerns. GreenEarth Cleaning (548–17) and Roundtable Transcript at 209 (Sopcich). 107 See, e.g., Drycleaning’s Decline Is Permanent, American Drycleaner (Dec. 20, 2010), at https:// americandrycleaner.com/articles/drycleaningsdecline-permanent. 108 Another possibility is that rescinding the Rule may afford manufacturers and sellers the freedom to label new cleaning methods as they enter the market, to develop innovative and informative new disclosures, and to use widely recognized care symbol systems without waiting for updates to the Rule. 105 Roundtable E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 44492 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS consumers.109 To the extent that current mandated labels may be imperfect or limited, a benefit of the Rule’s repeal would be to afford manufacturers and sellers the freedom to improve existing labels, to label new cleaning methods as they enter the market, and to use widely recognized care symbol systems without waiting for updates to the Rule. IV. Request for Comments In light of the record evidence suggesting that the Rule may be unnecessary and out of date, the Commission is seeking comments whether to repeal the Rule in its entirety. In deciding whether to repeal the Rule, the Commission considers whether: (1) The Rule’s costs are offset by countervailing benefits to consumers or the market; (2) consumer demand is already sufficient to require labeling of at least the garments consumers care about; and (3) Section 5 of the FTC Act could adequately protect consumers in labeling those garments absent the Rule. In considering this third issue, the Commission is interested in views as to what type of agency guidance, if any, would assist manufacturers in complying with Section 5 of the FTC Act absent the Rule. The Commission, therefore, asks for comment on these questions and any others issues commenters think are important for the Commission to consider in deciding whether to repeal the Rule. You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before September 21, 2020. Write ‘‘Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. R511915’’ on your comment. Because of the public health emergency in response to the COVID–19 outbreak and the agency’s heightened security screening, postal mail addressed to the Commission will be subject to delay. We strongly encourage you to submit your comment online through the https:// www.regulations.gov website. To ensure the Commission considers your online comment, please follow the instructions on the web-based form provided by regulations.gov. Your comment, including your name and your state, will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including the https:// www.regulations.gov website. If you file your comment on paper, write ‘‘Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. R511915’’ on your comment and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue 109 See section II.A.1. for a discussion of these comments. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:04 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 NW, Suite CC–5610 (Annex C), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610, Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service. Because your comment will be placed on the publicly accessible website, https://www.regulations.gov, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive or confidential information. In particular, your comment should not include any sensitive personal information, such as your or anyone’s Social Security number; date of birth; driver’s license number or other state identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport number; financial account number; or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, such as medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, your comment should not include any ‘‘[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which is . . . privileged or confidential’’—as provided in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2)— including in particular competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names. Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled ‘‘Confidential,’’ and must comply with FTC Rule 4.9(c). In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c). Your comment will be kept confidential only if the General Counsel grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest. Once your comment has been posted at www.regulations.gov—as legally required by FTC Rule 4.9(b)—we cannot redact or remove your comment from the website, unless you submit a confidentiality request that meets the requirements for such treatment under FTC Rule 4.9(c), and the General Counsel grants that request. Visit the FTC website to read this Notice and the news release describing PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before September 21, 2020. For information on the Commission’s privacy policy, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/ privacy-policy. The Commission invites members of the public to comment on any issues or concerns they believe are relevant or appropriate to the Commission’s consideration of the proposed repeal of the Care Labeling Rule. The Commission requests that comments provide factual data upon which they are based. These questions are designed to assist the public and should not be construed as a limitation on the issues on which public comment may be submitted. Questions The Commission seeks comment on the costs, benefits, and market effects of repealing the Rule as proposed, and particularly the cost on small businesses. Comments opposing the proposed repeal should explain the reasons they believe the Rule is still needed and, if appropriate, suggest specific alternatives. Please identify any data and empirical evidence that supports your answer. 1. What are the costs and benefits to manufacturers, retailers, professional cleaners, and consumers of the existing Rule? 2. What are the potential costs and benefits to manufacturers, retailers, professional cleaners, and consumers associated with the proposed repeal? Please specify whether the costs and benefits of an option are measured relative to the existing Rule. 3. What potentially unfair or deceptive practices concerning care labeling are occurring in the market? 4. What effect, if any, would repeal have on the care instruction information manufacturers provide to consumers, including whether and how care instructions, or the manner in which they are conveyed (e.g., symbols versus text), change under each option? 5. Are care label instructions helpful in all instances, or only for certain types of garments? Please identify any data and empirical evidence that support your answer. 6. If the Commission were to repeal the Rule, what new or different costs E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS would manufacturers incur to ensure they provide truthful and substantiated care information? 7. What incentives do manufacturers have to provide care labels in the absence of a regulatory mandate? 8. Do manufacturers or other sellers have refund policies for their garments? If so, what evidence must consumers provide to obtain refunds? How do companies inform consumers about refunds? What is the consumer burden associated with such refund programs? What are the costs associated for refund programs? 9. What, effect, if any, would repeal have on consumers’ decisions regarding cleaning methods? 10. What effect would repeal have on consumers’ use of alternative cleaning methods that are not specifically listed on the labels but that consumers may currently be using? 11. What effect would repeal likely have on the ability of industry participants to develop or adopt new technology? 12. What symbol systems would marketers use if the Commission were to repeal the Rule? Do commenters anticipate voluntary adoption of ASTM or ISO? 13. If the Commission repeals the Rule, should it issue guidance clarifying that a manufacturer need not list every possible cleaning method for a garment, and does not violate Section 5 as long as it possesses a reasonable basis for the care method(s) listed on its label? 14. Would repeal of the Rule create uncertainty among manufacturers with regard to ‘‘dry clean’’ instructions in light of the commenter concerns about potential confusion associated with the existing label? Would manufacturers need additional guidance on this issue from the FTC? If so, what should that guidance be? 15. What new or additional topics relating to care labeling or the Rule would it be useful for the Commission to address in guidance documents? Should such business guidance identify the use of ASTM or ISO symbols as safe harbors? V. Communications to Commissioners and Commissioner Advisors by Outside Parties Pursuant to Commission Rule 1.18(c)(1), the Commission has determined that communications with respect to the merits of this proceeding from any outside party to any Commissioner or Commissioner advisor shall be subject to the following treatment. Written communications and summaries or transcripts of oral communications shall be placed on the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 rulemaking record if the communication is received before the end of the comment period on the staff report. They shall be placed on the public record if the communication is received later. Unless the outside party making an oral communication is a member of Congress, such communications are permitted only if advance notice is published in the Weekly Calendar and Notice of ‘‘Sunshine’’ Meetings.110 VI. Regulatory Flexibility Act and Regulatory Analysis Under Section 22 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 57b–3, the Commission must issue a preliminary regulatory analysis for a proceeding to amend a rule only when it: (1) Estimates that the amendment will have an annual effect on the national economy of $100 million or more; (2) estimates that the amendment will cause a substantial change in the cost or price of certain categories of goods or services; or (3) otherwise determines that the amendment will have a significant effect upon covered entities or upon consumers. The Commission has preliminarily determined that the rescission will not have such effects on the national economy; on the cost of labeling apparel and piece goods; or on covered parties or consumers. Accordingly, the proposed repeal of the Rule is exempt from Section 22’s preliminary regulatory analysis requirements. To ensure the accuracy of this certification, however, the Commission requests comment on the economic effects of the proposed rescission. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (‘‘RFA’’), 5 U.S.C. 601–612, requires that the Commission provide an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (‘‘IRFA’’) with a proposed Rule and a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (‘‘FRFA’’), with the Final Rule, if any, unless the Commission certifies that the Rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. See 5 U.S.C. 603–605. In the Commission’s view, the repeal should not have a significant or disproportionate impact on the costs of small entities that manufacture or import apparel or piece goods. Therefore, based on available information, the Commission certifies that repealing the Rule as proposed will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Although the Commission certifies under the RFA that the repeal would not have a significant impact on a PO 00000 110 See 15 U.S.C. 57a(i)(2)(A); 16 CFR 1.18(c). Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 44493 substantial number of small entities, the Commission has determined, nonetheless, that is appropriate to publish an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis to inquire into the impact of the proposed repeal on small entities. Therefore, the Commission has prepared and seeks comment on the following analysis: A. Description of the Reasons That Action by the Agency Is Being Taken In response to public comments, the Commission proposes to repeal the Rule to respond to changes in technology, changed commercial practices, and updated industry standards. B. Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Proposed Amendments The Commission issued the Rule pursuant to Section 18 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 57a. The proposed repeal would alleviate burden on manufacturers and importers subject to the Rule. As described above, the record suggests that the existing Rule may no longer be necessary, has failed keep pace with a dynamic marketplace, and may have undermined the adoption of new technologies, and the proposed repeal would allow manufacturers additional flexibility in labeling garments for sale to consumers. C. Small Entities to Which the Proposed Amendments Will Apply Under the Small Business Size Standards issued by the Small Business Administration, textile apparel and some fabric manufacturers qualify as small businesses if they have 500 or fewer employees. Clothing and piece good wholesalers qualify as small businesses if they have 100 or fewer employees. Commission staff has estimated that approximately 10,744 manufacturers or importers of textile apparel are covered by the Rule’s disclosure requirements.111 A substantial number of these entities likely qualify as small businesses. The proposed repeal would not impose any new requirements on small businesses, and it would eliminate the information collection burdens associated with the Rule. 111 Federal Trade Commission: Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request, 83 FR 2156 (Jan. 16, 2018). E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1 44494 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 142 / Thursday, July 23, 2020 / Proposed Rules D. Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements, Including Classes of Covered Small Entities and Professional Skills Needed to Comply The proposed amendments would repeal the Rule and would therefore not impose any recordkeeping, reporting, or compliance requirements on any entities. Instead, the proposed repeal would eliminate the Rule’s disclosure and other compliance obligations for all small entities subject to the Rule. By direction of the Commission. April J. Tabor, Secretary. E. Duplicative, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules The Commission has not identified any federal statutes, rules, or policies that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with proposed repeal of the Rule. [Docket No. USCG–2020–0137] F. Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Amendments The Commission is not aware of any significant alternatives that would further minimize the impact on small entities of the proposed repeal, but solicits comments on this approach. ACTION: VII. Paperwork Reduction Act The existing Rule contains various ‘‘collection of information’’ (e.g., disclosure) requirements for which the Commission has obtained OMB clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act (‘‘PRA’’), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. OMB has approved the Rule’s existing information collection requirements through May 31, 2021 (OMB Control No. 3084–013).112 The proposed rule contains no collections of information under the PRA. See 44 U.S.C. 3502(3). Accordingly, there is no paperwork burden associated with the proposed rule. As discussed above, the Commission seeks comment on repealing the Rule and it is the Commission’s intention to rescind the associated information collection in connection with the proposed repeal. Accordingly, repeal of the Rule would eliminate the burdens imposed by the Rule’s disclosure requirements on manufacturers or importers of textile apparel. Proposed Regulatory Language jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with PROPOSALS PART 423—[REMOVED] For the reasons stated in the preamble, and under the authority of 15 U.S.C. 57a, the Commission proposes to remove 16 CFR part 423. 112 See 83 FR 15144 (Apr. 9, 2018). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:11 Jul 22, 2020 Jkt 250001 BILLING CODE 6750–01–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 RIN 1625–AA09 Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Middle River, Near Discovery Bay, CA Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: The Coast Guard proposes to change the operating schedule that governs the Woodward Island Bridge across Middle River, mile 11.8, near Discovery Bay, CA. The proposed operating schedule change will require the removable span to open for vessels engaged in emergency levee repairs. We invite your comments on this proposed rulemaking. DATES: Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before October 21, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG– 2020–0137 using Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov. See the ‘‘Public Participation and Request for Comments’’ portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on submitting comments. SUMMARY: If you have questions about this proposed rulemaking, call or email Carl T. Hausner, Chief, Bridge Section, Eleventh Coast Guard District; telephone 510–437–3516, email Carl.T.Hausner@uscg.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register OMB Office of Management and Budget NPRM Notice of Proposed Rulemaking § Section U.S.C. United States Code List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 423 Clothing, Labeling, Textiles, Trade practices. ■ [FR Doc. 2020–13919 Filed 7–22–20; 8:45 am] II. Background, Purpose and Legal Basis On September 20, 2017 the U.S. Coast Guard issued San Joaquin County a permit to construct the new removable span Woodward Island Bridge across PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Middle River, mile 11.8, near Discovery Bay, CA. Construction was completed on January 23, 2020. The new bridge provides 30 feet of vertical clearance in the closed-to-navigation position, unlimited vertical clearance when the span is removed, and 83 feet of horizontal clearance, dolphin to dolphin, measured normal to the centerline of the channel. The opening requirement for the newly constructed Woodward Island Bridge over Middle River is currently governed by 33 CFR 117.5, which requires prompt and full opening for the passage of vessels when a request or signal to open is given. A three-year navigational analysis of that portion of Middle River was conducted between 2000 and 2003. The results of the analysis indicated the newly constructed bridge would meet the reasonable needs of recreational vessels that normally use the waterway. Vessels which cannot transit the bridge in the closed position have an alternate route to reach the opposite side of the bridge. The Woodward Island Bridge was designed with a removable span to allow emergency vessels engaged in levee repair to request an opening when necessary. Since most recreational vessels can transit the new Woodward Island Bridge and there is an alternate route around the bridge, there is no need for an ‘‘open on demand’’ regulation as prescribed in 33 CFR 117.5. III. Discussion of Proposed Rule The Coast Guard proposes to change the operating schedule that governs the Woodward Island Bridge across Middle River, mile 11.8, near Discovery Bay, CA. This proposed rule change would implement regulations for the bridge to only open for vessels engaged in emergency levee repairs. The regulatory text we are proposing appears at the end of this document. IV. Regulatory Analyses We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and Executive Orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on these statutes and Executive Orders and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors. A. Regulatory Planning and Review Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13771 directs agencies to control regulatory costs through a E:\FR\FM\23JYP1.SGM 23JYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 142 (Thursday, July 23, 2020)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 44485-44494]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-13919]


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FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

16 CFR Part 423


Trade Regulation Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel 
and Certain Piece Goods

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION: Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Commission seeks comment on a proposal to repeal its trade 
regulation rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain 
Piece Goods as Amended (``Care Labeling Rule'' or ``Rule'').

DATES: Written comments must be received on or before September 21, 
2020. Parties interested in an opportunity to present views orally 
should submit a request to do so as explained below, and such requests 
must be received on or before September 21, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties may file a comment online or on paper by 
following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Please write ``Care Labeling 
Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. R511915'' on your comment, and file 
your comment online at https://www.regulations.gov by following the 
instructions on the web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment 
on paper, write ``Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. 
R511915'' on your comment and on the envelope and mail your comment to 
the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the 
Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 5610, Washington, DC 
20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade 
Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th 
Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex C), Washington, DC 20024.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Hampton Newsome, Attorney, Federal 
Trade Commission, Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer 
Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580, (202) 
326-2889.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission finds that using streamlined 
procedures in this rulemaking will serve the public interest. 
Specifically, such procedures support the Commission's goals of 
clarifying, updating, or repealing existing regulations, while ensuring 
that the public has an opportunity to submit data, views, and arguments 
on whether the Commission should repeal the Rule. Because written 
comments should adequately present the views of all interested parties, 
the Commission is not scheduling a public hearing or roundtable. 
However, if any person would like to present views orally, he or she 
should follow the procedures set forth in the DATES, ADDRESSES, and 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION sections of this document. Pursuant to 16 CFR 
1.20, the Commission will use the procedures set forth in this 
document, including: (1) Publishing this Supplemental Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (``SNPRM''); (2) soliciting written comments on the 
Commission's proposal to repeal or amend the Rule; (3) holding an 
informal hearing (such as a roundtable) if requested by interested 
parties; (4) obtaining a final recommendation from staff; and (5) 
announcing final Commission action in a document published in the 
Federal Register. Any motions or petitions in connection with this 
proceeding must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission.

I. Introduction

    The Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers of 
textile wearing apparel and certain piece goods to attach labels to 
their products disclosing the care needed for the ordinary use of the 
product.\1\ The Rule also requires manufacturers or importers to 
possess a reasonable basis for care instructions,\2\ and allows the use 
of approved care symbols in lieu of words to disclose those 
instructions.\3\
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    \1\ 16 CFR 423.5 and 423.6(a) and (b).
    \2\ 16 CFR 423.6(c).
    \3\ The Rule provides that the symbol system developed by ASTM 
International, formerly the American Society for Testing and 
Materials, and designated as ASTM Standard D5489-96c, ``Guide to 
Care Symbols for Care Instructions on Consumer Textile Products,'' 
may be used on care labels or care instructions in lieu of terms so 
long as the symbols fulfill the requirements of part 423. 16 CFR 
423.8(g).
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    The Commission has a long history of seeking comment and 
considering concerns about the Rule as well as the amendments proposed 
by the Commission. It promulgated the Rule in 1971 and has amended it 
three times since.\4\ In 1983, the Commission clarified its 
requirements regarding the disclosure of washing and drycleaning 
information.\5\ In 1997, the Commission adopted a conditional exemption 
to allow the use of symbols in lieu of words.\6\ In 2000, the 
Commission clarified what constitutes a reasonable basis for care 
instructions and revised the Rule's definitions of ``cold,'' ``warm,'' 
and ``hot'' water.\7\
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    \4\ 36 FR 23883 (Dec. 16, 1971).
    \5\ 48 FR 22733 (May 20, 1983).
    \6\ 62 FR 5724 (Feb. 6, 1997).
    \7\ 65 FR 47261 (Aug. 2, 2000).
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    In 2000, the Commission also rejected two proposed amendments. 
First, it declined to require marketers to provide instructions for 
home washing on items that one can safely wash at home. The Commission 
determined that the evidence was not sufficiently compelling to require 
such instructions and that the benefits of the proposed change were 
highly uncertain.\8\ Second, the Commission decided not to establish a 
definition for ``professional wetcleaning'' or permit manufacturers to 
label a garment with a ``Professionally Wetclean'' instruction.\9\ The 
Commission concluded that it was premature to allow such an instruction 
before the development of a suitable definition and an appropriate test 
method.\10\ However, the Commission stated that it would consider such 
an instruction if a more specific definition and/or test procedure were 
developed.\11\
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    \8\ Id. at 47269.
    \9\ The Commission initially proposed a definition of 
professional wetcleaning, stating, in part, that it is a system of 
cleaning by means of equipment consisting of a computer-controlled 
washer and dryer, wetcleaning software, and biodegradable chemicals 
specifically formulated to safely wetclean wool, silk, rayon, and 
other natural and man-made fibers. Id. at 47271 n. 99.
    \10\ Id. at 47272. The Commission explained that the definition 
must either describe all important variables in the process, so that 
manufacturers can determine that the process would not damage the 
garment, or be coupled with a specific test procedure that 
manufacturers can use to establish a reasonable basis for the 
instruction. Id.
    \11\ Id. at 47273.
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    As part of its ongoing regulatory review program, the Commission 
published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (``ANPR'') in July 
2011 seeking comment on the economic impact of, and the continuing need 
for, the Rule; the benefits of the Rule to consumers; and any burdens 
the Rule places on businesses.\12\ The ANPR also sought comment on 
whether and how the Rule should address professional

[[Page 44486]]

wetcleaning and updated industry standards regarding the use of care 
symbols, as well as whether the Rule should provide for non-English 
disclosures. The Commission received 120 comments in response.\13\
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    \12\ 76 FR 41148 (July 13, 2011).
    \13\ The comments are posted at http://www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-384.
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    After reviewing these comments, in September of 2012 the Commission 
published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (``NPRM'') proposing four 
amendments.\14\ Specifically, it proposed: (1) Permitting manufacturers 
and importers to provide a care instruction for professional 
wetcleaning on labels if the garment can be professionally wetcleaned; 
(2) permitting manufacturers and importers to use the symbol system set 
forth in either ASTM Standard D5489-07, ``Standard Guide for Care 
Symbols for Care Instructions on Textile Products,'' or ISO 
3758:2005(E), ``Textiles--Care labelling code using symbols''; (3) 
clarifying what constitutes a reasonable basis for care instructions; 
and (4) updating the definition of ``dryclean'' to reflect then-current 
practices and technology.\15\ The Commission received 87 comments in 
response,\16\ including one requesting an opportunity to present views 
orally at a workshop or hearing and several suggesting that the 
Commission hold a hearing or workshop. Most of these comments also 
urged the Commission to amend the Rule to require a wetcleaning 
instruction rather than merely permit one. Accordingly, the Commission 
conducted a roundtable on March 28, 2014 to provide interested parties 
with an opportunity to present their views orally pursuant to the 
procedures set forth in the NPRM.\17\ The Commission received 19 
comments in connection with the roundtable.\18\
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    \14\ 77 FR 58338 (Sept. 20, 2012).
    \15\ The Commission published the NPRM pursuant to Section 18 of 
the Federal Trade Commission Act (``FTC Act''), 15 U.S.C. 57, the 
provisions of Part 1, Subpart B of the Commission's Rules of 
Practice, 16 CFR 1.7, and 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. This authority 
permits the Commission to promulgate, modify, and repeal trade 
regulation rules that define with specificity acts or practices that 
are unfair or deceptive in or affecting commerce within the meaning 
of Section 5(a)(1) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1).
    \16\ The comments are posted at http://www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-451.
    \17\ The Commission originally scheduled this roundtable on 
October 1, 2013, see 78 FR 45901 (July 30, 2013); however, it was 
cancelled due to the government shutdown. The Commission announced 
the March 28 roundtable in February 2014. See 79 FR 9442 (Feb. 19, 
2014). For more information about the roundtable, including the 
agenda, event materials, a transcript, and video recordings of the 
roundtable, see http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2014/03/care-labeling-rule-ftc-roundtable.
    \18\ One comment is posted at http://www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-489. Eighteen comments are posted at http://www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-548.
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    Upon consideration of the substantial record in this rulemaking, 
the Commission now seeks comment on a proposal to repeal the Rule 
altogether. As detailed in section III, the record suggests that the 
Rule may not be necessary to ensure manufacturers provide care 
instructions, may have failed to keep up with a dynamic marketplace, 
and may negatively affect the development of new technologies and 
disclosures.
    This SNPRM summarizes the comments filed in response to the NPRM, 
as well as the roundtable and the roundtable comments, and explains the 
Commission's proposal. Additionally, it poses questions regarding the 
proposal and whether informal guidance would be helpful in the absence 
of the Rule. Finally, this SNPRM addresses procedural matters including 
communications to Commissioners and their advisors and the requirements 
under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act.

II. Summary of Comments and Roundtable

    The Commission received 106 comments in response to the 2012 NPRM 
and 2014 roundtable.\19\ Individuals, many of them professional 
cleaners, filed the majority of comments. The Commission also received 
comments from government agencies,\20\ industry standard-setting and 
related organizations,\21\ environmental advocacy organizations,\22\ 
equipment manufacturers and solvent suppliers,\23\ and trade 
associations representing industries affected by the Rule.\24\ In 
addition, 17 individuals representing a variety of stakeholders 
participated in the three roundtable discussion groups, which included 
audience participation. The commenters and roundtable participants 
(``comments'' or ``commenters'') addressed four issues: (1) 
Professional wetcleaning; (2) use of care symbols; (3) reasonable basis 
provisions; and (4) the Rule definitions and appendix.
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    \19\ The Commission has assigned each comment a number appearing 
after the name of the commenter and the date of submission. This 
SNPRM cites comments using the last name of the individual submitter 
or the name of the organization, followed by the number assigned by 
the Commission.
    \20\ Two California agencies filed comments: The Air Resources 
Board (451-70), Department of Toxic Substances Control (451-96). The 
European Union also filed a comment (451-67).
    \21\ American Association of Textile Chemists & Colorists 
(AATCC) (548-15), ASTM International (451-77), and Ginetex (451-37), 
which is responsible for the care labeling system used in European 
countries.
    \22\ The Toxic Use Reduction Institute (``TURI'') (451-54 and 
548-28), UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (451-87 and 
548-27).
    \23\ E.g., Miele (451-68, 72 and 76) and GreenEarth Cleaning 
(451-41 and 548-9 and 17).
    \24\ American Apparel & Footwear Association (451-88 and 548-
26), Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (451-71), The Hosiery 
Association (541-69), International Drycleaners Congress (451-32), 
National Cleaners Association (451-98 and 548-22), Professional 
Leather Cleaners Association (451-84 and 548-14), Professional Wet 
Cleaners Association (451-59 and 548-18), United States Association 
of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USA-ITA) (451-73).
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A. Professional Wetcleaning

    Commenters addressed a variety of issues relating to wetcleaning, 
including: (1) The dryclean instructions on many labels, which some 
commenters claimed are unfair or deceptive; (2) the environmental and 
health benefits of wetcleaning; (3) the relative cost of wetcleaning 
and drycleaning; (4) the cost of substantiating wetcleaning 
instructions; (5) consumer access to, and preferences regarding, 
wetcleaning; (6) the content of wetcleaning instructions; and (7) 
whether the Rule should permit or require a wetcleaning instruction.
1. Consumer Understanding Regarding Professional Wetcleaning From Dry 
Cleaning Instructions
    Several commenters maintained that the current dryclean instruction 
is deceptive and unfair because they argue that it implies that 
drycleaning is the only safe and effective cleaning method, when, in 
fact, wetcleaning may be an effective, alternative method of 
cleaning.\25\ The Rule currently allows marketers to provide a dryclean 
instruction on a label if they have a reasonable basis to believe that 
drycleaning is a safe and effective cleaning method. Drycleaning need 
not be the only, or even the best, method of cleaning the item. Some 
commenters contended, however, that contrary to the Rule's intent 
empirical and anecdotal evidence indicates many consumers misunderstand 
the dryclean instruction to mean that drycleaning is either the

[[Page 44487]]

only or the recommended cleaning method.
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    \25\ See roundtable presentation by Peter Sinsheimer from UCLA, 
available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/114528/march_28_sinsheimer_ftc_presentation.pdf; 
Sinsheimer (548-27), Huie (548-12) (dryclean instruction deceptive 
because implies dryclean only), Roh (548-5) (dryclean instruction 
deceptive unless wetclean instruction mandated); Roundtable 
Transcript at 9 and 12-18.
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    Peter Sinsheimer from UCLA submitted an online consumer study by 
Harris Interactive to support his contention that the Rule's dryclean 
instruction is deceptive and unfair.\26\ The study, conducted in 
September 2013 using close-ended questions, involved 2,000 adults. 
According to Sinsheimer, about 89% of the study respondents interpreted 
``dryclean'' to mean that drycleaning is the only, or the recommended, 
cleaning method.\27\ Only about 7% understood ``dryclean'' to mean that 
drycleaning is just one reliable method for cleaning the item.
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    \26\ See Sinsheimer roundtable presentation, available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/114528/march_28_sinsheimer_ftc_presentation.pdf; Sinsheimer (548-27); 
Roundtable Transcript at 9 and 17-18. The Commission has concerns 
about certain methodological limitations of the study that reduce 
its probative value, discussed in greater detail in section III.A.2.
    \27\ Specifically, 42% of the respondents interpreted 
``dryclean'' to mean that drycleaning is the only method for 
cleaning the item (Q3010). Additionally, 47% of respondents 
interpreted ``dryclean'' to mean it is the recommended cleaning 
method.
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    Several other commenters also asserted that consumers misinterpret 
the dryclean instruction. For example, one trade association stated 
that many, if not all, consumers interpret the dryclean label as ``do 
not wash.'' \28\ In addition, two consumer surveys considered by the 
Commission during the last Rule review yielded results consistent with 
the Harris Interactive online survey. One 1998 survey showed that 73.2% 
of the consumers surveyed interpreted ``dryclean'' to mean that the 
item must be drycleaned, professionally cleaned, or otherwise specially 
taken care of. \29\ A second survey of female heads of household who do 
laundry showed that 44% interpreted ``dryclean'' to mean that 
drycleaning is the only acceptable way to clean the item.\30\
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    \28\ DLI (451-71).
    \29\ 65 FR at 47268. Despite this interpretation of the dryclean 
instruction, 49% said they had washed or laundered items labeled 
``dryclean.'' Of these consumers, 63.4% were satisfied with the 
results, and 11.1% were sometimes satisfied. Id.
    \30\ Id.
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    Commenters generally agreed that a substantial number of garments 
labeled ``dryclean'' or ``dryclean only'' can be professionally 
wetcleaned, although they disagreed on the percentage. Sinsheimer cited 
studies showing that 99% of these items can be wetcleaned.\31\ 
Professional wetcleaners also indicated that a very high percentage of 
these textiles can be wetcleaned, including those containing wool and 
cashmere.\32\ Other commenters asserted that wetcleaning is not 
necessarily suitable for certain types of fibers (e.g., pure wool) and 
stains (e.g., water soluble stains can be wetcleaned while other types 
of stains such as grease may require drycleaning) and can lead to loss 
of color, bleeding, shrinkage, and undesired changes in an item's 
surface character.\33\ None of the commenters disputed that wetcleaning 
is a viable method of cleaning and an effective alternative to 
drycleaning in at least some instances.
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    \31\ Roundtable Transcript at 17-18.
    \32\ E.g., Chang (451-60), PWA (451-59) (99.9% can be 
wetcleaned); Roundtable Transcript at 47-49.
    \33\ See roundtable presentation by Professor Riggs of Texas 
Woman's University, available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/114528/charles_riggs_presentation_ftc.pptx; 
and Roundtable Transcript at 27-31, 43, 58, and 65-66.
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2. Environmental and Health Issues
    Some commenters contended that wetcleaning is always better for the 
environment and human health than drycleaning. Others asserted that 
drycleaning is comparable or superior under some circumstances. Both 
roundtable presentations addressed this issue, as did a number of the 
commenters.
    Government agencies, environmental advocacy organizations, and 
professional wetcleaners touted the environmental and health benefits 
of wetcleaning. Paul Matthai, a senior regulatory analyst for the 
Pollution Prevention Division/Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics 
(PPD/OPPT) at the EPA opined that wetcleaning is ``inherently 
environmentally preferable'' to drycleaning.\34\ Sinsheimer stated that 
the vast majority of drycleaners in the United States operate machines 
with perchloroethylene (``perc''), a chemical listed in the Clean Air 
Act as a hazardous air pollutant and a leading source of soil and 
drinking water contamination.\35\ Two California government agencies 
\36\ and a second environmental advocacy organization \37\ also 
asserted that perc causes soil and groundwater contamination while 
professional wetcleaning uses less energy and water, and improves air 
quality and employee health.\38\ In December 2007, the California Air 
Resources Board adopted a regulation eliminating the use of perc in 
drycleaning by 2023.\39\ Joy Onasch of the Toxic Use Reduction 
Institute (``TURI'') asserted that hydrocarbons and other perc 
alternatives have significant environmental and health hazards such as 
increased emissions of volatile organic compounds, fire, groundwater 
contamination, and potential adverse human health effects.\40\ A number 
of professional wetcleaners favored wetcleaning due to concerns about 
toxic or unhealthy drycleaning solvents.\41\
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    \34\ Roundtable Transcript at 60.
    \35\ Sinsheimer (451-87).
    \36\ Air Resources Board (451-70) and Department of Toxic 
Substances Control (451-96).
    \37\ TURI (451-54 and 548-28).
    \38\ Roundtable Transcript at 45, 56, 60-64.
    \39\ Air Resources Board (451-70).
    \40\ TURI (451-54).
    \41\ E.g., PWA (548-59 and 60), Mo (548-19).
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    Other commenters disputed these claims. Charles Riggs of Texas 
Woman's University stated that modern drycleaning equipment filters and 
then reuses solvents until they can be disposed of. He also asserted 
that wetcleaning discharges water containing detergents as well as more 
aggressive spot cleaning solvents into the sewage system.\42\ Mary 
Scalco of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute (``DLI'') asserted that 
wetcleaning may be no more environmentally friendly than drycleaning, 
depending on the equipment and drycleaning solvent used.\43\ Ann 
Hargrove of the National Cleaners Association (``NCA'') asserted that 
some wetcleaners are not allowed to use the septic system because they 
used dry solvents that ended up in the water.\44\ Another commenter 
stated that wetcleaning consumes significantly more water than 
drycleaning and can lead to the discharge of solvents into the 
sewer.\45\
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    \42\ Riggs Roundtable PowerPoint presentation; Roundtable 
Transcript at 34-37.
    \43\ Roundtable Transcript at 54-55 and 59.
    \44\ Id. at 58.
    \45\ Sitz (548-6).
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3. Wetcleaning and Drycleaning Service Costs
    Some commenters contended that wetcleaning costs no more than 
drycleaning, while others explained that costs depend on many factors, 
including the type and age of equipment and solvents used. Sinsheimer, 
Onasch, and Juli Mo of the Professional Wetcleaners Association cited 
research and anecdotal evidence that wetcleaning is either less 
expensive or at least does not cost more than drycleaning.\46\ For 
example, Onasch reported that several cleaners in Massachusetts did not 
raise their prices after switching from perc drycleaning to 
wetcleaning.\47\ A June 2012 report submitted by TURI estimated that 
the average cost per pound for wetcleaning was $1.10; it also

[[Page 44488]]

estimated the cost was $1.02 for perc and $0.88 for high-flash 
hydrocarbons, two types of drycleaning solvents.\48\ Onasch of TURI 
asserted that data since 2012 shows that wetcleaning does not cost more 
than drycleaning.\49\ Riggs stated that service prices vary not only by 
the technology used to clean, but also the price range of the garments 
cleaned and the age of the equipment.\50\
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    \46\ Sinsheimer roundtable power point presentation; Roundtable 
Transcript at 19, 67, and 69-70.
    \47\ Roundtable Transcript at 70.
    \48\ TURI (451-54); Roundtable Transcript at 66.
    \49\ Roundtable Transcript at 67-68.
    \50\ Id. at 68 and 71-72.
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4. Substantiation Costs
    Commenters disagreed about the cost of substantiating wetcleaning 
instructions and the potential burden associated with commenter 
proposals to require manufacturers to provide a wetcleaning 
instruction. Sinsheimer contended that his survey of professional 
wetcleaners shows that they can determine whether an item can be 
wetcleaned for an average cost of $50-$100 if testing is needed.\51\ In 
contrast, Scalco contended that DLI provides comprehensive testing for 
washing, drycleaning, and wetcleaning instructions for about $1,400, 
and that wetcleaning testing costs about $467.\52\ Other commenters, 
including Riggs, Marie D'Avignon of the American Apparel and Footwear 
Association, and Adam Mansell of the United Kingdom Fashion and Textile 
Association, disputed Sinsheimer's contention that requiring a 
wetcleaning instruction would not entail significant or burdensome 
costs for manufacturers.\53\
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    \51\ Sinsheimer roundtable PowerPoint presentation; Roundtable 
Transcript at 18.
    \52\ Roundtable Transcript at 78-79.
    \53\ Id. at 43-44, 75-77 and 81; AAFA (48-26).
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5. Consumer Access and Preferences
    Commenters who addressed consumers' desire for wet cleaning 
asserted that at least some consumers would prefer wetcleaning but not 
all consumers have access to it. As noted earlier, some commenters 
presented evidence that many consumers would prefer wetcleaning if they 
knew of the option and the quality and cost were comparable.\54\ 
Similarly, professional wetcleaners asserted that many cleaners and 
consumers prefer wetcleaning.\55\ None of the commenters disputed this 
contention, however GreenEarth noted that recent Google search data 
suggests far less interest in wetcleaning than drycleaning.\56\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \54\ See Sinsheimer roundtable presentation, available at http://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/114528/march_28_sinsheimer_ftc_presentation.pdf; Sinsheimer (548-27); 
Roundtable Transcript at 14.
    \55\ E.g., PWA (548-59 and 60), Mo (548-19).
    \56\ GreenEarth (548-9 at 3).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Commenters also agreed that not all consumers have access to 
wetcleaning, particularly in certain regions of the country. GreenEarth 
added that the limited number of cleaners in the Professional 
Wetcleaners Directory suggests that drycleaning services are much more 
accessible than wetcleaning services and that wetcleaners tend to be 
concentrated on the East and West Coasts. Sinsheimer described this as 
a ``chicken and egg'' problem, arguing that the absence of a 
wetcleaning instruction on labels is an enormous barrier to the 
diffusion of wetcleaning services.\57\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \57\ Roundtable Transcript at 91.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

6. Content of Wetcleaning Instructions
    Many commenters favored a ``professionally wetclean'' instruction 
because they asserted that consumers might misinterpret a ``wetclean'' 
instruction to mean home washing.\58\ None preferred ``wetclean'' to 
``professionally wetclean.'' Some also urged the Commission to require 
a ``do not wash'' warning--where warranted--to minimize the risk that 
consumers will misunderstand a care instruction and inadvertently 
damage a garment that is labeled for wetcleaning by laundering it.\59\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \58\ E.g., Brown (451-11), Camerino (451-14), Chen (451-17), 
Culotta (451-56), Daniel (451-42), DLI (451-71), Ocampo (451-52), 
Feingold (548-7), GreenEarth (451-41 and 548-9 at 3), Park (451-95), 
Blacker (451-82), Knox (451-65), Yerby (451-55), Peterson (451-39), 
Kinzer (451-36), Veach (451-31), Shaffer (451-30), Woodruff (451-
27), Wentworth (451-26), Laramee (451-13), Mishann (451-12), Staal 
(451-9), Johnson (451-6); Roundtable Transcript at 95-98.
    \59\ E.g., Chen (451-17), GreenEarth (451-41 and 548-9 at 3), 
Shaffer (451-30), Woodruff (451-27), Laramee (451-13).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. Whether To Permit or Require a Wetcleaning Instruction on Items That 
Can Be Wetcleaned
    Commenters disagreed on whether the Commission should require or, 
as the Commission proposed, permit a wetcleaning instruction. 
Sinsheimer, Onasch, Mo, California government agencies, many members of 
the wetcleaning industry, and some consumers urged the Commission to 
require a wetcleaning instruction.\60\ In contrast, Riggs, D'Avignon, 
Mansell, Scalco, and many members of the drycleaning industry favored 
permitting a wetcleaning instruction.\61\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \60\ E.g., Sinsheimer Roundtable presentation, California Air 
Resources Board (451-70), California Department of Toxic Substances 
Control (451-96), Yim (451-83), Feingold (548-7), Huie (451-80 and 
548-12), Mo (451-79), Miele (451-68 and 76), Onasch (451-54), 
Ornholmer (451-66), PWA (451-59), Roh (451-75 and 548-21), Sung 
(451-74); Roundtable Transcript 19-20 and 85.
    \61\ E.g., AAFA (451-88), Behzadi (451-88), GreenEarth (451-41 
and 548-9 at 3), International Drycleaners Congress (451-32), NCA 
(451-98 and 548-22); Roundtable Transcript at 42-44, 46-47, and 51.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Use of Care Symbols

    Commenters addressed: (1) The use of ASTM and ISO symbols; (2) the 
differences between the 2005 and 2012 ISO symbols; (3) concerns about 
the Rule specifying the year of the permitted ASTM or ISO symbol 
system; (4) the timing of future symbol system changes; and (5) 
consumer understanding of symbols.
1. ASTM vs. ISO Symbols
    Commenters addressing the issue urged the Commission to modify the 
Rule to allow for the use of updated ASTM symbols, and most supported 
amending the Rule to permit the use of ISO symbols, and either 
supported, or did not object to, retaining the option of using ASTM 
symbols.\62\ These commenters explained that manufacturers commonly use 
ISO symbols in other countries; therefore, allowing their use in the 
United States would increase flexibility and reduce labeling costs. 
None of the commenters viewed the differences between the ISO and ASTM 
symbols as a problem, with the exception of natural drying symbols 
discussed further below.\63\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \62\ E.g., AAFA (451-88 and 548-26), European Union (451-67), 
Ginetex (451-37), GreenEarth (451-41), International Drycleaners 
Congress (451-32), Kyllo (451-78), Knox (451-65), Lee (451-51), 
Poggi (451-4), and USA-ITA (451-73); and Roundtable Transcript at 
122-23, 163-64, and 171.
    \63\ Roundtable Transcript at 120-21.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, commenters opposed the Commission's proposal to 
require labels to identify the symbols as ISO-based.\64\ None believed 
that identifying the ISO system on labels would help consumers, and 
many noted that requiring this disclosure would impose unnecessary 
costs on manufacturers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \64\ E.g., European Union (451-67), GreenEarth (548-9), Kyllo 
(451-78); Roundtable Transcript at 130-136, 168-170 and 175-176.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Differences Between the 2005 and 2012 ISO Symbols
    Nearly all relevant commenters favored the 2012 ISO symbols.\65\ 
They noted that manufacturers use the current 2012 ISO symbols and use 
of the 2005 symbols would therefore impose unnecessary costs. In 
addition, three commenters explained that either the key differences 
between the 2012 and 2005 ISO standards are minor, or the

[[Page 44489]]

2012 standard is an improvement.\66\ Some noted that, unlike the 2005 
symbols, the 2012 symbols include natural drying symbols that differ 
from the ASTM natural drying symbols. Two commenters supported allowing 
use of the 2012 ISO symbols in lieu of written terms, except for the 
natural drying symbols. They contended these drying symbols are 
confusing, seldom used in the United States, or differ from ASTM 
symbols.\67\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \65\ E.g., AAFA (451-88 and 548-26), Bide (451-48), 
Dr[oslash]jdahl (451-53), European Union (451-67), Ginetex (451-37), 
GreenEarth (451-41), Kyllo (451-78), International Drycleaners 
Congress (451-32), and Poggi (451-4); Roundtable Transcript at 125-
26 and 140.
    \66\ GreenEarth (548-9), Roundtable Transcript at 132-33.
    \67\ GreenEarth (548-9); Roundtable Transcript at 151.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Recognizing ASTM and ISO Standards Without Identifying the Year
    Some commenters advocated allowing the most recent ASTM and ISO 
symbol systems without specifying the year or version of the 
standards.\68\ They asserted that it takes too long for the Commission 
to update the Rule once the ASTM or ISO symbol system changes, creating 
problems for marketers.\69\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \68\ E.g., AAFA (451-88 and 548-26), Kyllo (451-78), Keyes (451-
64); Roundtable Transcript at 144-45.
    \69\ Roundtable Transcript at 130, 144-45, 162, and 173-75.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Timeline for ASTM and ISO Updates
    Both ASTM and ISO have updated their care labeling symbol systems 
since the Commission initiated its review of the Care Labeling Rule. 
ASTM most recently updated its care labeling system in 2018, while ISO 
updated its system in 2012. Several commenters expressed concern that 
the ASTM and ISO symbol systems have not adequately addressed 
drycleaning solvents other than perc and petroleum.\70\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \70\ E.g., Brown (451-11), Camerino (451-14), Daniel (451-42), 
Douglas (451-33), GreenEarth (451-41 and 548-9), Slan (451-57). ASTM 
updated its symbol system in 2014 to provide that the letter ``F'' 
enclosed in the circle symbol represents drycleaning in hydrocarbon 
or silicone solvent but not perc solvent.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In its comment on the ANPR, Ginetex urged the Commission to repeal 
the Rule in part due to the difficulty of keeping up with market 
developments and innovations. Specifically, it argued that the Rule 
should not be mandatory because a voluntary scheme could better adapt 
to technical and environmental developments.\71\ Others noted that 
Canada and European nations do not require care labeling 
instructions.\72\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \71\ Ginetex (384-39).
    \72\ Roundtable Transcript at 175.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Finally, some commenters urged the Commission to review the Rule 
more frequently to help keep up with changes in the marketplace and 
ASTM and ISO standards.\73\ One explained that, for many years, the 
industry and technology were relatively static,\74\ but recently there 
has been a lot of change, with more expected. If the Commission plans 
to continue regulating care labels, another urged the Commission staff 
to attend ISO, ASTM, and American Association of Textile Chemists & 
Colorists (``AATCC'') meetings to keep abreast of industry changes.\75\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \73\ Id. at 225-26.
    \74\ Id. at 229-30.
    \75\ Id. at 226-28.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Consumer Understanding of Symbols
    Several commenters opined that many consumers do not understand all 
of the care symbols currently in use.\76\ As a result, they opposed 
allowing the use of any symbols.\77\ Still others contended that using 
both ASTM and ISO symbols will likely cause consumer confusion.\78\ 
Others expressed concern that consumers may not understand some 
symbols, but nonetheless favored allowing their use. They explained 
that consumers understand the most relevant symbols (e.g., washing, 
ironing, and professional care symbols), and professional cleaners will 
know the rest.\79\ Moreover, some consumers prefer written terms to 
symbols, possibly because they do not understand the symbols. For 
example, J.C. Penney reported that its customers complained when it 
tried to use only symbols with one brand.\80\ However, none of the 
roundtable participants that expressed concern about consumer 
understanding of symbols opposed allowing the use of symbols to provide 
care instructions. In addition, several noted that the majority of 
labels in the United States already use symbols in addition to, or in 
lieu of, written instructions.\81\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \76\ E.g., GreenEarth (548-9), Huie (548-12); Roundtable 
Transcript at 94-95, 123-27, 146, 157-58, and 166.
    \77\ E.g., Daniel (451-42), The Hosiery Association (451-69), 
Slan (451-57), Patel (451-40), Kinzer (451-36), Reiner (451-25), 
Pflueger (451-5).
    \78\ E.g., DLI (451-71) and Keyes (451-64); Roundtable 
Transcript at 119-120 and 122.
    \79\ Roundtable Transcript at 126-27 and 146-47.
    \80\ Id. at 170-71. Given the context of the Workshop remarks 
(``We did try one brand, specifically in our intimates, to just use 
the symbols and our customers complained so much about it, they had 
no idea''), it appears that JCPenney discontinued the symbol-only 
practice for the brand in question.
    \81\ Id. at 131.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Reasonable Basis Provisions

    Commenters addressed a variety of issues relating to the Rule's 
reasonable basis provision, including the Commission's proposal, Green 
Earth's proposal, and whether, and to what extent, the Rule should 
require the testing of entire products to substantiate care 
instructions.
1. Commission Proposal
    In 2012, the Commission proposed clarifying the Rule's reasonable 
basis requirement by incorporating examples of instances where testing 
an entire garment may be needed to determine care instructions, and 
where such testing is not needed.
    Commenters generally favored the Commission's proposal. All of the 
commenters addressing the issue supported clarifying the reasonable 
basis provision, and either supported the proposal \82\ or urged the 
Commission to provide more clarification and additional examples.\83\ 
Commenters identified materials and components possibly warranting 
testing when combined with other materials or components, including 
elastic, spandex, vinyl, acetates, triacetates, polyurethane, silks, 
leather, metallic, and plasticizers, along with components not easily 
removed, including beads, buttons, sequins, and interfacings.\84\ None 
opposed the Commission's proposal.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \82\ E.g., AAFA (451-88 and 548-26), DLI (541-71), GreenEarth 
(451-41 and 548-9), Knox (451-65), and NCA (451-98); Roundtable 
Transcript at 179-185.
    \83\ E.g., Brown (451-11), Chen (451-17), DLI (541-71), 
GreenEarth (451-41 and 548-9), Feingold (548-7), International 
Drycleaners Congress (451-32), Kinzer (451-36), Knox (451-65), 
Laramee (451-13), Patel (451-40), Shaffer (451-30), Sitz (548-6), 
Staal (451-9), Viezcas (451-10), and Yerby (451-55); Roundtable 
Transcript at 185-186.
    \84\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. GreenEarth Proposal
    GreenEarth agreed with the Commission's proposal but also suggested 
listing additional examples that may require testing, such as garments 
containing: (1) Sizings, elastics, vinyl, acetates, triacetates, 
polyurethanes, silks, natural skins, or other plasticizers known to be 
damaged in drycleaning; and (2) water soluble dyes, wool, natural 
fiber, or skins when wetcleaning is recommended. No commenters 
expressed support for, or opposition to, GreenEarth's proposal. 
However, as noted above, many commenters identified similar issues.
3. Testing of Entire Garments vs. Components
    Commenters disagreed on the extent to which manufacturers need to 
test entire items. Some identified situations where such testing would 
be necessary, such as white and black spandex, where

[[Page 44490]]

dye bleed is an issue.\85\ NCA and others explained that the 
aggressiveness of the drycleaning solvent is not the only factor that 
may require testing because less aggressive solvents can be heated to 
enhance their aggressiveness, and longer cleaning and drying cycles 
result in more aggressive mechanical action.\86\ Manufacturers, 
however, indicated that testing entire items is often unnecessary and 
would entail excessive costs.\87\ For example, one said that it tests 
fabrics as necessary rather than finished garments and solicits 
information from suppliers about how their trim reacts to certain 
chemicals.\88\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \85\ E.g., Anderson (548-13), Feingold (548-7), GreenEarth (548-
9 and 548-17), and Sitz (548-6); Roundtable Transcript at 185-186.
    \86\ E.g., NCA (548-22); Roundtable Transcript at 142-4.
    \87\ E.g., AAFA (548-26); Roundtable Transcript at 186-88.
    \88\ E.g., Roundtable Transcript at 187-88.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

D. Rule Definitions and Appendix

    Commenters addressed a variety of issues relating to the Rule's 
definitions and Appendix, including the Commission's proposal to amend 
the definition of drycleaning, the Appendix's provision on leather care 
instructions, and the Rule's definitions of hot, warm, and cold water.
1. Drycleaning Definition Revisions
    Commenters generally favored the Commission's proposal, although 
they disagreed on whether to list specific solvents in the drycleaning 
definition. All relevant commenters favored updating the definition by 
clarifying that it includes solvents other than water (non-aqueous 
solvents) and dropping the term ``organic'' and the reference to 
fluorocarbons (a solvent no longer in use).\89\ They disagreed on 
whether to list examples of current drycleaning solvents. Some 
supported the proposal to update the list. Others expressed concern 
that any list would be misinterpreted as complete, rather than 
illustrative. Therefore, they stated that the list might discourage 
innovation and the use of new solvents.\90\ Some expressed concerns 
about including solvents rarely used, such as aldehyde, or solvents 
that cleaners may stop using in the future.\91\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \89\ AAFA (451-88), DLI (451-71), GreenEarth (451-41 and 548-
17), Knox (451-65), NCA (451-98); Roundtable Transcript at 209-11.
    \90\ Roundtable Transcript at 212-13.
    \91\ Blacker (451-82); Roundtable Transcript at 211-12.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Leather Instruction
    Commenters also disagreed on the need to amend the Rule's Appendix 
on leather care instructions. Dart Poach of the Professional Leather 
Cleaners Association (``PLCA'') urged the Commission to amend this 
provision so the instruction addresses professional refinishing.\92\ 
Specifically, PLCA proposed the instruction ``Leather Clean and 
Refinish by Professional Leather Cleaner Only'' because many textile 
products with leather components need professional leather refinishing 
as well as professional leather cleaning. In addition, several 
commenters urged the Commission to amend the Rule's reasonable basis 
provision to address leather care.\93\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \92\ PLCA (451-84 and 548-14); Roundtable Transcript at 182, 
200, 202-03, and 208-09.
    \93\ E.g., Laramee (451-13), Staal (451-9), and Viezcas (451-
10).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Other commenters questioned the need for the proposed amendment 
because they have not received consumer complaints or otherwise seen a 
problem.\94\ For example, one stated that with the advent of more 
gentle alternatives to perc, many items with leather trim do not need 
refinishing.\95\ No other commenters supported the amendment proposed 
by PLCA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \94\ Roundtable Transcript at 202 and 205-08.
    \95\ Id. at 205.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Water Temperature Issues
    Commenters disagreed on whether the Commission should amend the 
Rule to incorporate the AATCC's most recent definitions of hot, warm, 
and cold water used in testing. AATCC explained that its new 
temperature ranges fall within those in the Rule, and therefore the 
Commission does not need to revise them.\96\ Instead, AATCC proposed 
adding a new provision stating:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \96\ AATCC (548-15); Roundtable Transcript at 192-94.

    The Standardization of Home Laundry Test Conditions Monograph 
(M6) developed by American Association of Textile Chemist & 
Colorists (AATCC) may be used as a supplement to refer [to] a range 
of washing temperatures available in today's consumer laundering 
machines. It should be noted that these temperatures fall within the 
tolerance range specified in section 423.2(d) of 16 CFR [sic]. This 
monograph may be obtained from the AATCC website: http://www.aatcc.org/testing/supplies/docs/205-M06.pdf or may be reviewed 
at the Federal Trade Commission, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
NW, Washington DC.

    Several commenters disagreed, arguing that the Rule's temperatures 
should match those specified for testing, even though consumers' 
laundry temperatures vary significantly based on location, season, and 
heater settings.\97\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \97\ Roundtable Transcript at 191-92 and 195-198.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

III. Proposed Repeal

    Section 18 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 57a, authorizes the Commission 
to promulgate, amend, and repeal trade regulation rules that define 
with specificity acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive in or 
affecting commerce within the meaning of section 5(a)(1) of the FTC 
Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a)(1). The Commission regularly reviews its rules to 
ensure they are up-to-date, effective, and not overly burdensome, and 
has repealed a number of trade regulation rules after finding they were 
no longer necessary to protect consumers.\98\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \98\ See, e.g., 16 CFR part 410 (television screen sizes) (83 FR 
50484 (Oct. 19, 2018)) (rule unnecessary; lack of deceptive claims); 
16 CFR part 419 (games of chance) (61 FR 68143 (Dec. 27, 1996)) 
(Rule outdated; violations largely non-existent; and Rule has 
adverse business impact); 16 CFR part 406 (used lubricating oil) (61 
FR 55095 (Oct. 24, 1996)) (Rule no longer necessary, and repeal will 
eliminate unnecessary duplication); 16 CFR part 405 (leather content 
of belts) (61 FR 25560 (May 22, 1996)) (Rule unnecessary and 
duplicative; Rule's objective can be addressed through guidance and 
case-by-case enforcement); and 16 CFR part 402 (binoculars) (60 FR 
65529 (Dec. 20, 1995)) (technological improvements render Rule 
obsolete).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Comments in the record suggest that current conditions support 
repealing the Rule. Specifically, the record suggests that the existing 
Rule may no longer be necessary because manufacturers, in the absence 
of the Rule, are likely to provide accurate care information to 
consumers as a matter of course.\99\ Additionally, the Rule may have 
failed to keep up with a dynamic marketplace. The record also raises 
concerns that the Rule may have a negative impact on innovation, 
particularly in the development and adoption of cleaning technologies 
and disclosures. Finally, repeal would provide manufacturers with 
additional flexibility in labeling and address concerns raised by some 
commenters that the Rule mandates care disclosures that may be 
confusing to some consumers. To the extent that confusion about 
currently mandated care disclosures may exist, labelers will be 
incentivized by competitive pressure, rather than compelled by the 
Rule, to respond to consumer demand for better disclosures. In light of 
these considerations, the Commission seeks comment on the costs and 
benefits of repealing the Rule. The Commission emphasizes that, even if 
it repeals the

[[Page 44491]]

Rule, Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45(a)) would continue to 
prohibit manufacturers from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices 
in labeling.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \99\ Although commenters in this proceeding did not provide 
substantial information about the prevalence of deceptive practices 
in the current marketplace, no commenter indicated that the market 
is free of deception. In response to the ANPR, for instance, a few 
indicated that some non-compliant parties appear to be misinformed 
or to misunderstand the requirements. Textile Industry Affairs (384-
112) and The Clorox Company (384-122).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. The Rule May Be Unnecessary

    The record suggests that a legal mandate may not be necessary to 
ensure manufacturers provide clear, accurate care instructions on 
garments. Notably, most European Union nations and Canada have 
voluntary care instruction systems and, according to the record, 
manufacturers in those markets voluntarily provide cleaning 
instructions on a routine basis.\100\ Moreover, the record also 
suggests that market demand for clear care labels in the U.S. is 
sufficient to motivate marketers to provide them. For example, a 
representative for JCPenney reported that consumer outcry was 
substantial when the company tried to sell one of its brands without 
word-based care instructions, apparently leading the company to 
discontinue the practice.\101\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \100\ Care labeling is voluntary in Canada and most of Europe; 
see Roundtable Transcript at 175 (indicating that care labeling is 
voluntary in Europe and Canada) and Ginetex (384-83) (urging the 
Commission to consider a voluntary approach). See also Feltham, T., 
Martin, L. (2006, June) ``Apparel Care Labels: Understanding 
Consumers' Use of Information,'' https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228295594_Apparel_Care_Labels_Understanding_Consumers'_Use_of_Informa
tion (``Even though the care labeling (in Canada) is voluntary, 
consumers see care labels on almost all garments purchased in 
Canada''); and ``European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry 
Study of the need and options for the harmonisation of the labelling 
of textile and clothing products,'' 24 January 2013, Final Report, 
Matrix Insight Ltd., at 43-44, available at ec. europa.eu/DocsRoom/
documents/10480/attachments/1/translations/en/renditions/native.
    \101\ Roundtable Transcript at 170-171.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This result is not surprising. Consumers need to clean their 
clothes and want to do so without ruining their investment, 
particularly when that investment is significant. Manufacturers who do 
not provide cleaning instructions will likely disappoint consumers and 
lose sales. The J.C. Penney example demonstrates this point.\102\ 
Therefore, market forces appear to be sufficient to ensure that 
manufacturers provide cleaning instructions to their consumers without 
a regulatory requirement. Accordingly, the Rule's repeal appears 
unlikely to have any significant negative impact on care information 
currently available to consumers.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \102\ Moreover, if a manufacturer provides no cleaning 
information, failing to warn that a method a consumer could 
reasonably assume would be a safe method would in fact harm the 
garment, the manufacturer could be in violation of Section 5 and 
subject to a Commission law enforcement action. See, e.g., Int'l 
Harvester, 104 F.T.C. 949, 1058 (1984) (``It can also be deceptive 
for a seller to simply remain silent, if he does so under 
circumstances that constitute an implied but false 
representation.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, mandatory care labeling instructions for all garments may 
impose unnecessary compliance costs on manufacturers. With mandatory 
instructions, manufacturers bear the cost of providing instructions on 
all garments. However, there is no indication that every type of 
garment needs instructions to ensure proper cleaning. For example, 
consumers may not need instructions for basic cotton t-shirts. Without 
mandatory instructions, manufacturers likely would provide care 
instructions for garments only if consumer demand warranted, thereby 
avoiding those costs when care instructions are not necessary for 
consumers.

B. Keeping Up With Marketplace Changes

    As some commenters discussed (section II.A. and B.), the Rule does 
not appear to have kept pace with advances in cleaning technology and 
care symbol revisions. Specifically, although the option of wetcleaning 
has been available in the marketplace for many years, the Rule still 
does not allow manufactures to present that option on labels. Moreover, 
the Rule currently incorporates a symbol system (ASTM D5489-96c) that 
has been superseded. Repeal would remove the confusion caused by 
outdated Rule provisions, as well as the need to update provisions 
constantly to address market changes.\103\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \103\ In its comments (384-83), Ginetex argued that a voluntary 
scheme could better adapt to technical and environmental 
developments.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Potential Negative Impacts on Innovation

    Repeal would also eliminate any possibility the Rule negatively 
affects market innovation. Over the course of the proceeding, some 
commenters suggested that the Rule might have had a negative impact on 
the adoption of new cleaning technologies. For example, commenters and 
workshop participants explained that the Rule's failure to address 
wetcleaning has placed professional wetcleaners at a competitive 
disadvantage and discouraged greater use of that technology. PWA 
explained, ``we cannot market our services as `Professional Wet 
Cleaning' because the care label says Dry Cleaning.'' Comments from 
wetcleaning equipment makers also raised concerns about the Rule's 
impact. For example, a representative for wetcleaning system developer 
Kreussler suggested the Rule language might prohibit innovation.\104\ 
Some non-industry commenters raised similar concerns. Sinsheimer stated 
that if ``the wet cleaning care label is not on the garment . . . that 
is an enormous barrier to the diffusion'' of wetcleaning services. In 
addition, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute asserted that the current 
Rule ``is limiting the spread of this safer technology [wetcleaning].'' 
\105\ The commenters also suggested the Rule has limited the use of 
newer solvents in drycleaning.\106\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \104\ Roundtable Transcript at 156 (Fitzpatrick).
    \105\ Roundtable Transcript at 91 (Sinsheimer); and Toxics Use 
Reduction Institute (394-86). See also, PWA (451-59), Miele (384-
108), and San Francisco Department of the Environment (384-89). PWA 
also argued that labeling garments ``Dry Clean'' or ``Dry Clean 
Only'' even though they can be successfully wetcleaned is unfair to 
professional wetcleaners. If a consumer prefers to dryclean such 
garments, the wetcleaner faces the prospect of losing the business 
or deceiving the consumer by wetcleaning instead of drycleaning such 
garments. The dilemma of either lying to the customer or potentially 
losing business makes professional wetcleaning unappealing to many 
drycleaners. PWA (384-102).
    \106\ Earlier in the proceeding, several commenters argued the 
Rule's restrictive ``dryclean'' definition discourages the use of 
solvents not recognized by the Rule and, therefore, risks curtailing 
technological advancement. See 77 FR at 58342-3 and 58347 (citing to 
comments Bromagen (384-91); Hagearty (384-61); Preece (384-54); and 
Yazdani (384-78)). More recent comments and statements at the 
Roundtable echoed these concerns. GreenEarth Cleaning (548-17) and 
Roundtable Transcript at 209 (Sopcich).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At the same time, countervailing market trends unrelated to 
labeling may have contributed to the lack of adoption of new cleaning 
technologies identified by these commenters. Specifically, an overall 
decline in the demand for professional cleaning may have affected the 
adoption of new technologies, driven by factors such as the increased 
wear of casual workplace clothing, reduced smoking, and the use of 
``wrinkle free'' clothing that consumers can wash at home.\107\ 
Nevertheless, repeal would eliminate any negative impacts the Rule may 
have on innovation in cleaning and disclosures.\108\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \107\ See, e.g., Drycleaning's Decline Is Permanent, American 
Drycleaner (Dec. 20, 2010), at https://americandrycleaner.com/articles/drycleanings-decline-permanent.
    \108\ Another possibility is that rescinding the Rule may afford 
manufacturers and sellers the freedom to label new cleaning methods 
as they enter the market, to develop innovative and informative new 
disclosures, and to use widely recognized care symbol systems 
without waiting for updates to the Rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Finally, as noted above, several commenters provided empirical and 
anecdotal evidence suggesting that the Rule's prescribed ``dryclean'' 
instruction may create confusion among some

[[Page 44492]]

consumers.\109\ To the extent that current mandated labels may be 
imperfect or limited, a benefit of the Rule's repeal would be to afford 
manufacturers and sellers the freedom to improve existing labels, to 
label new cleaning methods as they enter the market, and to use widely 
recognized care symbol systems without waiting for updates to the Rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \109\ See section II.A.1. for a discussion of these comments.
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IV. Request for Comments

    In light of the record evidence suggesting that the Rule may be 
unnecessary and out of date, the Commission is seeking comments whether 
to repeal the Rule in its entirety. In deciding whether to repeal the 
Rule, the Commission considers whether: (1) The Rule's costs are offset 
by countervailing benefits to consumers or the market; (2) consumer 
demand is already sufficient to require labeling of at least the 
garments consumers care about; and (3) Section 5 of the FTC Act could 
adequately protect consumers in labeling those garments absent the 
Rule. In considering this third issue, the Commission is interested in 
views as to what type of agency guidance, if any, would assist 
manufacturers in complying with Section 5 of the FTC Act absent the 
Rule. The Commission, therefore, asks for comment on these questions 
and any others issues commenters think are important for the Commission 
to consider in deciding whether to repeal the Rule.
    You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to 
consider your comment, we must receive it on or before September 21, 
2020. Write ``Care Labeling Rule, 16 CFR part 423, Project No. 
R511915'' on your comment. Because of the public health emergency in 
response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the agency's heightened security 
screening, postal mail addressed to the Commission will be subject to 
delay. We strongly encourage you to submit your comment online through 
the https://www.regulations.gov website. To ensure the Commission 
considers your online comment, please follow the instructions on the 
web-based form provided by regulations.gov. Your comment, including 
your name and your state, will be placed on the public record of this 
proceeding, including the https://www.regulations.gov website.
    If you file your comment on paper, write ``Care Labeling Rule, 16 
CFR part 423, Project No. R511915'' on your comment and on the 
envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade 
Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 
CC-5610 (Annex C), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the 
following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 
Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610, 
Washington, DC 20024. If possible, submit your paper comment to the 
Commission by courier or overnight service.
    Because your comment will be placed on the publicly accessible 
website, https://www.regulations.gov, you are solely responsible for 
making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive or 
confidential information. In particular, your comment should not 
include any sensitive personal information, such as your or anyone's 
Social Security number; date of birth; driver's license number or other 
state identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport 
number; financial account number; or credit or debit card number. You 
are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not 
include any sensitive health information, such as medical records or 
other individually identifiable health information. In addition, your 
comment should not include any ``[t]rade secret or any commercial or 
financial information which is . . . privileged or confidential''--as 
provided in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 
4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2)--including in particular competitively 
sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, 
formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer 
names.
    Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is 
requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled 
``Confidential,'' and must comply with FTC Rule 4.9(c). In particular, 
the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the 
comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and 
must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from 
the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c). Your comment will be kept 
confidential only if the General Counsel grants your request in 
accordance with the law and the public interest. Once your comment has 
been posted at www.regulations.gov--as legally required by FTC Rule 
4.9(b)--we cannot redact or remove your comment from the website, 
unless you submit a confidentiality request that meets the requirements 
for such treatment under FTC Rule 4.9(c), and the General Counsel 
grants that request.
    Visit the FTC website to read this Notice and the news release 
describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission 
administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and 
use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all 
timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before 
September 21, 2020. For information on the Commission's privacy policy, 
including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/privacy-policy.
    The Commission invites members of the public to comment on any 
issues or concerns they believe are relevant or appropriate to the 
Commission's consideration of the proposed repeal of the Care Labeling 
Rule. The Commission requests that comments provide factual data upon 
which they are based. These questions are designed to assist the public 
and should not be construed as a limitation on the issues on which 
public comment may be submitted.

Questions

    The Commission seeks comment on the costs, benefits, and market 
effects of repealing the Rule as proposed, and particularly the cost on 
small businesses. Comments opposing the proposed repeal should explain 
the reasons they believe the Rule is still needed and, if appropriate, 
suggest specific alternatives. Please identify any data and empirical 
evidence that supports your answer.
    1. What are the costs and benefits to manufacturers, retailers, 
professional cleaners, and consumers of the existing Rule?
    2. What are the potential costs and benefits to manufacturers, 
retailers, professional cleaners, and consumers associated with the 
proposed repeal? Please specify whether the costs and benefits of an 
option are measured relative to the existing Rule.
    3. What potentially unfair or deceptive practices concerning care 
labeling are occurring in the market?
    4. What effect, if any, would repeal have on the care instruction 
information manufacturers provide to consumers, including whether and 
how care instructions, or the manner in which they are conveyed (e.g., 
symbols versus text), change under each option?
    5. Are care label instructions helpful in all instances, or only 
for certain types of garments? Please identify any data and empirical 
evidence that support your answer.
    6. If the Commission were to repeal the Rule, what new or different 
costs

[[Page 44493]]

would manufacturers incur to ensure they provide truthful and 
substantiated care information?
    7. What incentives do manufacturers have to provide care labels in 
the absence of a regulatory mandate?
    8. Do manufacturers or other sellers have refund policies for their 
garments? If so, what evidence must consumers provide to obtain 
refunds? How do companies inform consumers about refunds? What is the 
consumer burden associated with such refund programs? What are the 
costs associated for refund programs?
    9. What, effect, if any, would repeal have on consumers' decisions 
regarding cleaning methods?
    10. What effect would repeal have on consumers' use of alternative 
cleaning methods that are not specifically listed on the labels but 
that consumers may currently be using?
    11. What effect would repeal likely have on the ability of industry 
participants to develop or adopt new technology?
    12. What symbol systems would marketers use if the Commission were 
to repeal the Rule? Do commenters anticipate voluntary adoption of ASTM 
or ISO?
    13. If the Commission repeals the Rule, should it issue guidance 
clarifying that a manufacturer need not list every possible cleaning 
method for a garment, and does not violate Section 5 as long as it 
possesses a reasonable basis for the care method(s) listed on its 
label?
    14. Would repeal of the Rule create uncertainty among manufacturers 
with regard to ``dry clean'' instructions in light of the commenter 
concerns about potential confusion associated with the existing label? 
Would manufacturers need additional guidance on this issue from the 
FTC? If so, what should that guidance be?
    15. What new or additional topics relating to care labeling or the 
Rule would it be useful for the Commission to address in guidance 
documents? Should such business guidance identify the use of ASTM or 
ISO symbols as safe harbors?

V. Communications to Commissioners and Commissioner Advisors by Outside 
Parties

    Pursuant to Commission Rule 1.18(c)(1), the Commission has 
determined that communications with respect to the merits of this 
proceeding from any outside party to any Commissioner or Commissioner 
advisor shall be subject to the following treatment. Written 
communications and summaries or transcripts of oral communications 
shall be placed on the rulemaking record if the communication is 
received before the end of the comment period on the staff report. They 
shall be placed on the public record if the communication is received 
later. Unless the outside party making an oral communication is a 
member of Congress, such communications are permitted only if advance 
notice is published in the Weekly Calendar and Notice of ``Sunshine'' 
Meetings.\110\
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    \110\ See 15 U.S.C. 57a(i)(2)(A); 16 CFR 1.18(c).
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VI. Regulatory Flexibility Act and Regulatory Analysis

    Under Section 22 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 57b-3, the Commission 
must issue a preliminary regulatory analysis for a proceeding to amend 
a rule only when it: (1) Estimates that the amendment will have an 
annual effect on the national economy of $100 million or more; (2) 
estimates that the amendment will cause a substantial change in the 
cost or price of certain categories of goods or services; or (3) 
otherwise determines that the amendment will have a significant effect 
upon covered entities or upon consumers. The Commission has 
preliminarily determined that the rescission will not have such effects 
on the national economy; on the cost of labeling apparel and piece 
goods; or on covered parties or consumers. Accordingly, the proposed 
repeal of the Rule is exempt from Section 22's preliminary regulatory 
analysis requirements. To ensure the accuracy of this certification, 
however, the Commission requests comment on the economic effects of the 
proposed rescission.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (``RFA''), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, 
requires that the Commission provide an Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (``IRFA'') with a proposed Rule and a Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (``FRFA''), with the Final Rule, if any, unless 
the Commission certifies that the Rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. See 5 U.S.C. 
603-605. In the Commission's view, the repeal should not have a 
significant or disproportionate impact on the costs of small entities 
that manufacture or import apparel or piece goods. Therefore, based on 
available information, the Commission certifies that repealing the Rule 
as proposed will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.
    Although the Commission certifies under the RFA that the repeal 
would not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, the Commission has determined, nonetheless, that is 
appropriate to publish an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis to 
inquire into the impact of the proposed repeal on small entities. 
Therefore, the Commission has prepared and seeks comment on the 
following analysis:

A. Description of the Reasons That Action by the Agency Is Being Taken

    In response to public comments, the Commission proposes to repeal 
the Rule to respond to changes in technology, changed commercial 
practices, and updated industry standards.

B. Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Proposed 
Amendments

    The Commission issued the Rule pursuant to Section 18 of the FTC 
Act, 15 U.S.C. 57a. The proposed repeal would alleviate burden on 
manufacturers and importers subject to the Rule. As described above, 
the record suggests that the existing Rule may no longer be necessary, 
has failed keep pace with a dynamic marketplace, and may have 
undermined the adoption of new technologies, and the proposed repeal 
would allow manufacturers additional flexibility in labeling garments 
for sale to consumers.

C. Small Entities to Which the Proposed Amendments Will Apply

    Under the Small Business Size Standards issued by the Small 
Business Administration, textile apparel and some fabric manufacturers 
qualify as small businesses if they have 500 or fewer employees. 
Clothing and piece good wholesalers qualify as small businesses if they 
have 100 or fewer employees. Commission staff has estimated that 
approximately 10,744 manufacturers or importers of textile apparel are 
covered by the Rule's disclosure requirements.\111\ A substantial 
number of these entities likely qualify as small businesses. The 
proposed repeal would not impose any new requirements on small 
businesses, and it would eliminate the information collection burdens 
associated with the Rule.
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    \111\ Federal Trade Commission: Agency Information Collection 
Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request, 83 FR 2156 (Jan. 
16, 2018).

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[[Page 44494]]

D. Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements, Including Classes of Covered Small Entities and 
Professional Skills Needed to Comply

    The proposed amendments would repeal the Rule and would therefore 
not impose any recordkeeping, reporting, or compliance requirements on 
any entities. Instead, the proposed repeal would eliminate the Rule's 
disclosure and other compliance obligations for all small entities 
subject to the Rule.

E. Duplicative, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal Rules

    The Commission has not identified any federal statutes, rules, or 
policies that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with proposed repeal of 
the Rule.

F. Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Amendments

    The Commission is not aware of any significant alternatives that 
would further minimize the impact on small entities of the proposed 
repeal, but solicits comments on this approach.

VII. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The existing Rule contains various ``collection of information'' 
(e.g., disclosure) requirements for which the Commission has obtained 
OMB clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act (``PRA''), 44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq. OMB has approved the Rule's existing information 
collection requirements through May 31, 2021 (OMB Control No. 3084-
013).\112\ The proposed rule contains no collections of information 
under the PRA. See 44 U.S.C. 3502(3). Accordingly, there is no 
paperwork burden associated with the proposed rule. As discussed above, 
the Commission seeks comment on repealing the Rule and it is the 
Commission's intention to rescind the associated information collection 
in connection with the proposed repeal. Accordingly, repeal of the Rule 
would eliminate the burdens imposed by the Rule's disclosure 
requirements on manufacturers or importers of textile apparel.
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    \112\ See 83 FR 15144 (Apr. 9, 2018).
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Proposed Regulatory Language

List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 423

    Clothing, Labeling, Textiles, Trade practices.

PART 423--[REMOVED]

0
For the reasons stated in the preamble, and under the authority of 15 
U.S.C. 57a, the Commission proposes to remove 16 CFR part 423.

    By direction of the Commission.
April J. Tabor,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2020-13919 Filed 7-22-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6750-01-P