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

Cited as:85 FR 44485
Court:Federal Trade Commission
Publication Date:23 Jul 2020
Record Number:2020-13919
Federal Register, Volume 85 Issue 142 (Thursday, July 23, 2020)
[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\
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                 \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).
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                 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\
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                 \57\ Roundtable Transcript at 91.
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                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\
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                 \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).
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                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\
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                 \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.
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                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.
                ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                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