Shell slapped down for flower refinery advert

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The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld a complaint by Friends of the Earth against Shell over the oil company's claims that it uses its waste CO2 to grow flowers.

Earlier this year the environmental group complained that depicting an oil refinery spouting flowers from its chimneys implied that Shell used all of its CO2 emissions for beneficial purposes. In fact, as Friends of the Earth pointed out, Shell uses only about 0.325 per cent of its emissions in this way.

The adverts also claimed that waste sulphur was used as a concrete strengthening agent, but again the amounts involved were negligible.

The ASA agreed that both claims were misleading, and forced Shell to withdraw the advert and promise not to use it again in the future.

Hannah Griffiths, Friends of the Earth's Corporates Campaigner, said:
'We're delighted that Shell has been brought to book for its misleading claims. Shell is one of the world's dirtiest companies, as people living next door to Shell's refineries around the world know only too well. Companies making false green claims do nothing but make the situation worse as they try to pull the wool over people's eyes and lull them into a false sense of security. It's a shame that the ASA does not have more teeth and that Shell wasn't fined for its deceptions.'

This article first appeared in the Ecologist November 2007