The five: ads banned for greenwashing
The airline came under fire last week from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for using outdated information to claim it was the UK’s lowest emission airline. The statistics it used failed to include many rival airlines and were based on data from 2011. The ASA ruled that there was not enough evidence to support the claim and banned the advert as misleading.
The car giant had a Facebook advert banned in 2017 for its i3 electric car. The company claimed that the car was “zero emissions”, but this was disputed on the grounds that it came with the option of a small petrol engine to maintain its charge and also that it seemed to claim that by buying the car, customers would be “giving back” to the environment. The ASA ruled that this was misleading and the advert in its original form was pulled.
Fischer Future Heat
The company, which sells electric immersion heaters, argued in a 2019 advert that its product was superior to traditional water cylinders, with one of the claims being that it was “zero emissions”. The ASA ruled this misleading as, although the boiler did not directly release CO2 into the atmosphere, it was powered by electricity, which is a source of carbon emissions, so although it was more environmentally friendly, it couldn’t call itself “zero emissions”.
Ancol Pet Products
This company marketed its biodegradable dog waste bags in 2018. It claimed they lessened dogs’ impact on the environment, but further research showed that when buried in traditional landfill, as they were likely to be once discarded in park bins, they were no more beneficial than standard bags. The ASA ruled that this was misleading and banned the ad.
In a 2008 advert, the oil giant Shell described a Canadian tar sands project, involving the strip-mining of 140,000 sq km of Alberta, and the construction of the world’s largest oil refinery in Texas as “sustainable”. “Because we had not seen data that showed how Shell was effectively managing carbon emissions from its oil sands projects in order to limit climate change, we concluded that the ad was misleading,” said the ASA.