Shell broke ad rules with CO2 claimsFriends of the Earth says claims were inaccurate

07 November 2007

Shell broke advertising rules with a claim about its waste carbon dioxide (CO2) being used to grow flowers, the industry watchdog ruled today.

The firm's press advert showed flowers coming out of oil refinery chimneys under the headline: 'Don't throw anything away - there is no away.'

Text under the picture said: 'We use our waste CO2 to grow flowers, and our waste sulphur to make super-strong concrete. Real energy solutions for the real world.'

The environmental group Friends of the Earth complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that only 0.325% of Shell's emissions were used to grow flowers.

Waste sulphur

The campaigners also said the advert misleadingly implied that all Shell's waste sulphur was used to make concrete.

After an investigation, the ASA upheld these two complaints and found Shell's advert in breach of rules relating to truthfulness and environmental claims.

Most readers would interpret the advert as meaning Shell used '... all, or at least the majority, of their waste CO2 to grow flowers, whereas the actual amount was a very small proportion when compared to the global activities of Shell', the watchdog ruled.

The ASA said readers would also infer from the advert that Shell used all, or at least the majority, of its waste sulphur to make super-strong concrete.

Shell's advert is no longer appearing and the firm told the ASA it would not be used again in future.

Global emissions

Shell said the 0.325% figure quoted by Friends of the Earth compared its CO2 emissions reduction via the 2005 greenhouse project against Shell Group's total worldwide emissions that year.

Comparing global emissions against the CO2 savings of a single local scheme was inappropriate, the firm said.

Shell believed its advert did not imply all the firm's waste CO2 was used to grow flowers.

The firm's waste sulphur has so far been used to create eight tonnes of sulphur-strengthened concrete. That figure is expected to increase over the next decade, Shell added.

Shell said in a statement: 'We are disappointed with the UK Advertising Standards Authority's decision. We believe that the advertisement is a creative and striking way of drawing attention to the problem of waste disposal while acknowledging the issue of meeting the energy challenge.'

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