The Federal Trade Commission is not granting an industry request that would allow products to be labeled “made in the USA” if they contain metals recycled in the United States.
The agency said that while it wasn’t issuing a final opinion on the question at this time, it noted that past studies indicate that consumers believe a made in the USA–labeled piece should comprise all American materials—and if a piece contains recycled metals, those metals may have originated elsewhere.
“Unless a marketer can substantiate that all components of a recycled piece—including natural resources—originated in the United States, based on the record before us, it appears that an unqualified U.S. origin claim [for products with recycled metals] may deceive a significant number of consumers,” agency secretary Donald S. Clark wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to Jewelers Vigilance Committee president and CEO Cecilia Gardner.
Still, the agency left the door open to reconsider the question. “If additional testing were to show that recycling gold and precious minerals changes consumer perception of U.S. origin claims for those items, we would reevaluate,” the letter added.
It said “its staff is available to help craft qualified claims that avoid deception while highlighting the work done to recycle precious metal in this country.”
The industry groups—the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, Jewelers of America, the American Gem Trade Association, and the Richline Group—argued that it isn’t easy for jewelry manufacturers to comply with the current guidelines for the label, which requires all components to be produced domestically. They contended that when metals are recycled, they begin a new life cycle, regardless of their initial origin, so metals recycled in the United States should qualify.
A statement from the groups said they are considering their next steps.