A magazine insert for an energy supplier stated "Make the switch to Woodland Trust Energy and save more. It's not just money you could save by switching to Woodland Trust Energy - it's our trees and woods too. Every time someone joins us, our partners at Ovo Energy donate an average of £30 to help protect precious UK woodland and the wildlife it supports. Choose from our two simple tariffs: New Energy Plan (15% renewable) or our Green Energy Plan (100% renewable) ...".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "100% renewable" was misleading because they believed the energy was supplied via the National Grid, which also provided energy from sources that were not renewable.
Woodland Trust t/a Woodland Trust Energy stated that, whilst customers on their 100% Green Energy Plan received their energy from the National Grid, they guaranteed that 100% of their energy was backed by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs). They explained that a REGO was attributed to every MWh of energy produced by accredited renewable generation sites and that they obtained their REGOs from contracts with accredited generation sites or by buying them from a third party. They said they held a REGO to back up every MWh of electricity that their 100% Green customers used.
Woodland Trust said the leaflet's call to action was for customers to visit the Woodland Trust Energy website, which provided further information regarding their 100% Green Energy Plan and made it clear that the energy supplied would be taken from the National Grid. They highlighted that the website stated "the energy supplied is taken from the National Grid, so we can't guarantee what ends up in your home will be totally green. But if you're on our 100% Green Energy Plan we can guarantee that for every unit you buy, we will buy one unit of renewable electricity" and considered that made it clear.
Woodland Trust said the supplier license conditions for energy suppliers did not state that they needed to declare that customers' energy came from the National Grid, but they had previously made declarations associated with claims they had made in leaflets and ads for partners. They said they would be happy to run advertising materials past the ASA on occasions where they would like to ensure that their future advertising was acceptable.
The ASA noted that the leaflet did not state that Woodland Trust supplied 100% renewable energy directly to customers on its Green Energy Plan tariff. Although the leaflet did not make clear the system by which Woodland Trust ensured that their supply was accounted for in equal renewable electricity production, we considered that consumers were likely to understand that certified green tariff electricity was generally supplied through the National Grid and were therefore likely to interpret the claim "Green Energy Plan (100% renewable)" to mean that electricity used on that tariff would be accounted for by electricity produced by renewable sources. Because that was the case, we concluded that it was unlikely to mislead.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 11.1 11.1 The basis of environmental claims must be clear. Unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information. (Environmental claims), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.