The sign of things to come in Australia?
The body charged with regulating the advertising industry [in Britain] has warned it will not tolerate companies making grandiose claims about their green credentials, unless they have the science to back them up.
The Advertising Standards Authority yesterday ordered Scottish & Southern Energy to stop using “A Good Use of Your Energy”, a leaflet it sent out to its gas and electricity customers earlier this year.
The leaflet claimed its tree-planting scheme would absorb CO2 equal to that created by households signed up to its green electricity tariff. Around 30,000 of the company’s 7 million customers are on the power2 tariff, which supplies electricity from hydro-electric schemes.
After a complaint from a member of the public, the ASA looked at whether the claim could be proved.
As part of the inquiry, SSE said it had a three-year agreement with the World Land Trust, which would plant enough saplings to ensure 150,000 growing trees a year in one or more sites in the UK or worldwide.
SSE also provided evidence that the average annual household produces 4.65 tonnes of CO2 per year from gas usage and household waste. But the ASA said it failed to prove that the new trees absorbed the equivalent amount of greenhouse gases.
The ASA ruling comes as companies are increasingly advertising the fact that they are “carbon neutral”, or are taking specific measures to reduce CO2 emissions in the battle to win customers. Many may now have to review proposed adverts.
A spokeswoman for SSE defended its record and said it was “proud” of its green credentials. “Tree-planting is just part of that,” she said. “However, future material, where it is referred to, will be even clearer and easier to understand.”