ASA Adjudication on Vencel Resil Ltd
Vencel Resil Ltd t/a
11 August 2010
Industrial and engineering
Number of complaints:
A trade press ad for Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) building insulation was headlined "Insulation at the top of its class". Text below this stated "Did we mention that Jablite, our high-performance, low-impact EPS is rated an A+ by the BRE Green Guide to Specification. In assessments alongside other popular insulation materials, researchers discovered that EPS has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero and a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP). Produced using low-impact methods, it's also easy to recycle. All useful stuff to know when you're struggling to choose the right insulation for your next project. And who would have thought that the most environmentally-friendly insulation would also be the most cost effective? So why would you settle for anything else?"
The ad featured an image of a hand filling in a tick-box form titled "BRE Green Guide to Specification INSULATION ALL BUILDING TYPES". The form featured a list of different types of insulation with their corresponding BRE rating including "Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) A+” and Stone Wool B†". The hand was shown ticking the box next to the statement "Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) A+". Small print at the bottom of the ad stated "†Densities of 128kg/m3 and 140 kg/m3".
Eurisol UK Ltd challenged whether:
1. the comparison between Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Stone Wool was misleading because they understood that the type of stone wool referred to in the ad could not be used for the same purpose as EPS; and
2. the ad misleadingly implied that EPS was the most environmentally-friendly form of insulation, whereas they understood that glass wool and some types of lightweight stone wool were also rated A+.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Vencil Resil Ltd said the products listed in the ad were those suitable for rigid flat roofing insulation. They said Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) had a number of uses in construction but that Jablites EPS was used specifically for rigid flat roof and ground floor insulation because it had load-bearing properties. They submitted a copy of the British Board of Agrment (BBA) certificate for Jablite which showed EPS could be used for that purpose. They said stone wool came in a variety of densities and that densities of stone wool of 128 kg/m3 and above could, in some circumstances, be made into dense boards and also used in rigid insulation. They submitted a BBA certificate for one such high density stone wool insulation product in order to illustrate this. They said the ad made clear the density of stone wool that was being compared and that it was therefore an appropriate inclusion in the list.
2. Vencel Resil said the list in the ad compared substances that were suitable for rigid flat-roof insulation only. They said Jablites EPS was made using low energy manufacturing processes and that EPS generally had the lowest carbon footprint of any widely available insulation material. They said EPS was one of the few products on the market to have an A+ rating from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) due to its Ozone Depletion Potential of zero and Global Warming Potential of less than five, specifically in the area of rigid insulation. They said its thermal qualities exceeded all current building regulations. They said, however, that the ad did not state or imply that EPS was the only product with an A+ BRE rating and provided extracts from the BRE Green Guide to Specification.
Vencil Resil said the comparison in the ad was entirely fair and accurate as it related to a group of products which could only be used for a specific purpose, and which were directly comparable to Jablites EPS. They believed the comparison would be understood by the audience to whom the ad was directed.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad compared the BRE Green Guide ratings of seven insulation materials. We noted that the complainant believed that stone wool of the density referred to in the ad could not be used for the same purpose as EPS.
However, we noted that BBA certificate submitted by Vencil Resil showed that EPS could be used for rigid flat-roof insulation. We also understood that stone wool, in the densities referred to in the ad, could also be used for rigid flat roof insulation. We therefore concluded that the comparison between EPS and high density stone wool in the ad was not misleading.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP Code Clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 19.1 (Other comparisons) but did not find it in breach.
We noted that Vencil Resil believed that the ad made clear that it was comparing products suitable for rigid flat roof insulation only. However, we noted that the ad was headlined "BRE Green Guide to Specification INSULATION ALL BUILDING TYPES" and we considered readers would understand that claim to mean that the ad was comparing all insulation types generally, rather than making a specific comparison between flat-roof insulation products. We also noted that the insulation products named in the ad included sheeps wool and straw bale, which we understood could not be used for rigid flat-roof insulation, and which we considered therefore reinforced the impression that the ad was making a general comparison between all insulation products.
In that context, we considered that the claim "Insulation at the top of its class", next to a list of seven insulation types in which only EPS was shown to be A+ rated, would be interpreted by readers to mean that EPS was the only insulation type to have achieved that rating. However, we noted from the BRE Green Guide that a number of other insulation products not listed in the ad, including glass wool and light-weight stone wool, had also been given an A+ rating.
Because we considered the ad implied that EPS was the only insulation type which had achieved an A+ BRE rating, and because we understood that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading on this point.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1, 7.2 (Truthfulness), 19.1 (Other comparisons) and 49.1 (Environmental Claims).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)