Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad description

A website for the meal kit subscription service Gousto, www.gousto.co.uk, seen on 1 May 2020, featured a blog entry titled "Why Gousto’s Packaging Innovation Is A Huge Step Forward for Sustainability" that stated "Eco Chill is a plastic-free insulation box …”. A second blog entry titled "Meet The Eco Chill Box" stated “… we’re delighted to announce the launch of our NEW recyclable cardboard insulator with absolutely no plastic”, “What isit? … The Eco Chill Box is the first of its kind in the UK. A 100% plastic-free recipe box insulator”, and “How do you recycle it? … It’s super simple – every part of it is widely recycled …”. A third blog entry titled "We’ve solved our 50% plastic pledge" stated "Our newly piloted Eco Chill Box is the first insulator of its kind in the UK, made of recycled paper and zero plastic … And most importantly, it’s 100% recyclable!".

Issue

Grocery Delivery E-Services UK Ltd challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated: 1. "Eco Chill is a plastic-free insulation box …”, “… with absolutely no plastic”, “A 100% plastic-free recipe box insulator”, and “the first insulator of its kind in the UK, made of recycled paper and zero plastic”, because they understood that the box contained an ice pack made of low density polyethylene plastic; and 2. “… every part of it is widely recycled …”, and “… most importantly, it’s 100% recyclable!", because they understood that only between 15% and 20% of local authorities in the UK had the facilities to recycle low density polyethylene plastic in home recycling.

Response

1. SCA Investments Ltd t/a Gousto said that they considered their Eco Chill Box and the ice packs it contained to be discrete from one another – the former was an insulator and the latter was a coolant used to set the temperature inside the box. They said that distinction was an industry standard. They said because of that distinction, they did not consider the claims made in the ad were misleading. They provided evidence that showed the composition of the Eco Chill Box and its structure. 2. Gousto provided Recyclability Evaluation Reports generated by the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme in substantiation for their claims that the Eco Chill Box was “100% recyclable” and “widely recycled”. They said that because of the aforementioned distinction, the recyclability of the ice packs was not relevant. Gousto said they would remove the claims from their advertising.

Assessment

1. Upheld The ASA considered that consumers would interpret references to the “Eco Chill Box” in the ad to refer to the box as a whole, including all of its components. The box was described in the ad as a means of keeping food fresh, and we considered that consumers would expect this would necessitate the use of a cooling element, to keep food cold while in transit from Gousto’s warehouses to consumers’ homes. In that context, we considered consumers would interpret the claims "Eco Chill is a plastic-free insulation box …”, “… with absolutely no plastic”, “A 100% plastic-free recipe box insulator”, and “… made of recycled paper and zero plastic” to mean the box, and its cooling element, did not contain any plastic. The evidence provided showed the box itself was made of paper and recycled paper and did not contain plastic. However, we noted that the coolant ice packs inside were made of plastic. Given that, we concluded that the claims “"Eco Chill is a plastic-free insulation box …”, “… with absolutely no plastic”, “A 100% plastic-free recipe box insulator”, and “… made of recycled paper and zero plastic” were misleading and had not been substantiated. We welcomed Gousto's assurance that they would not use the claims in their future advertising. On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:

a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;

b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;

c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;

d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;

e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;

f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];

g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"

Section 319(2).
 (Misleading advertising),  3.1 3.1 The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:

a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;

b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;

c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;

d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;

e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;

f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];

g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"

Section 319(2).
 (Substantiation), and  11.3 11.3 Advertisements must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional (see rule 11.9). That does not prevent advertising for spectacles, contact lenses or hearing aids.  (Environmental claims). 2. Upheld We considered that consumers would understand the claims “… every part of it is widely recycled …”, and “… most importantly, it’s 100% recyclable!" to mean that the box was recycled by the majority of local authorities in the UK, and that every component of the box was recyclable. We noted the reports provided by Gousto that showed the cardboard Eco Chill Box was recyclable and widely accepted in kerbside recycling by local authorities. However, we had not seen any evidence that the ice packs used as cooling elements in the box, were either widely recycled or recyclable. We therefore concluded that the claims “… every part of it is widely recycled …”, and “… most importantly, it’s 100% recyclable!" were misleading and had not been substantiated. On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:

a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;

b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;

c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;

d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;

e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;

f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];

g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"

Section 319(2).
 (Misleading advertising),  3.1 3.1 The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:

a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;

b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;

c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;

d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;

e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;

f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];

g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"

Section 319(2).
 (Substantiation), and  11.3 11.3 Advertisements must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional (see rule 11.9). That does not prevent advertising for spectacles, contact lenses or hearing aids.  (Environmental claims).

Action

We welcomed SCA Investments Ltd t/a Gousto's offer to change their advertising so that it complied with the CAP Code. We told Gousto to ensure that their future marketing communications did not state that their products and packaging were plastic-free, widely recycled, or 100% recyclable where they contained components that did not meet those criteria. The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Gousto to ensure that their future marketing communications did not state that their products and packaging were plastic-free, widely recycled, or 100% recyclable where they contained components that did not meet those criteria.

BCAP Code

11.3     3.1     3.7    

CAP Code (Edition 12)

11.3     3.1     3.7    


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