The radio advertisement featuring a male voiceovers referred to the following:
“There is one company in Ireland as diverse as the thousands of communities they serve. A company that already powers over one hundred thousand Irish homes with green energy, that turns organic materials into renewable fuel, even converts household rubbish into electricity. A company born of the land that rehabilitates and preserves that land. The name of that company - Bord Na Móna.
To ensure a sustainable future is not just an ideal but a reality.
Bord Na Móna. Naturally Driven”.
The Press advertisement accompanied by the picture of a rabbit in a field referred to the following:
“At Bord Na Móna we’re responsible for over 80,000 hectares of Irish landscape.
And that responsibility extends to those who inhabit the land. That’s why we’re restoring and rehabilitating our peatlands for over 1000 species of unique flora, fauna and wildlife who call it home. As well as repurposing the land to create havens of natural beauty for local communities to enjoy – working responsibly with nature, and leading that change to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.
Search Bord Na Móna Change.
Bord Na Móna Naturally Driven”
This advertisement featured an overview of a town and referred to the following:
“We power over 8,000 Irish homes by turning waste into electricity? Rubbish Far from it.
Bord Na Móna’s waste collection company, handles over 5 million household bins every year for over 100,000 customers. Much of that waste is recycled, but increasingly we’re converting some of it into green power electricity. Just one of the many innovative ways we’re working responsibly with nature, and leading the change to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.
Search Bord Na Móna Change.
Bord Na Móna Naturally Driven”
This advertisement featured a country scene. Three wind turbines were working in the background as a young family walked along a country road. The advertisement referred to the following:
“There are many ways to generate power from nature. We’re inspired by all of them.
At Bord Na Móna we’re powering 115,000 homes with renewable energy. By 2020, it will be close to 250,000. We do it by working responsibly with nature in ways you might expect – like wind power – to ways you might never imagine, like converting household waste into electricity, as well as generating power from biomass (organic material). And one day very soon we’ll be converting the power of the sun into electricity. They’re just some of the many ways we’re leading the change to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.
Search Bord Na Móna Change.
Bord Na Móna Naturally Driven”
All complainants considered the advertising to be misleading and disputed the fact that Bord Na Móna were an environmentally friendly company or ‘naturally driven’ as proclaimed in their advertising. All complainants posed the question how Bord Na Móna could substantiate the claim that they powered Irish homes with “green energy” when they were using turf and peat from Ireland’s rapidly diminishing bogs to fuel power plants, domestic fires and the horticultural market.
The advertisers said they strongly refuted the nature of the complaints and asserted that they had not misled their audience. They said that the issues raised by the complainants appeared to be primarily based on their perceptions of the Company (Bord Na Móna) itself and not the marketing communications in question.
The advertisers said that for a long time, Bord na Móna had been associated with only one part of their business – peat/turf/briquettes. This was possibly due to the fact that they had predominantly advertised their peat briquettes but not their other business areas. Research undertaken by them over the past number of years had consistently shown that the general public’s perception of Bord na Móna was driven by peat, bogs and peat briquettes and that there was a complete dearth of appreciation of contemporary Bord na Móna which they deemed necessary to address through their marketing communications.
They said a major issue for Bord na Móna in the public arena was the apparent vacuum of knowledge about the contemporary role, relevance and operations of the company. In fact, they said, it was the case that they had engaged in many various businesses ranging from renewable energy, such as wind power, to resource recovery where they also used household waste to create electricity through their landfill gas facility at their Drehid Plant in Co. Kildare. They said horticulture and gardening products were another large area of their business and they also worked to rehabilitate and restore the land from which peat was harvested to create places of biodiversity that nurtured and protected wildlife as well as providing recreation amenities for local communities, such as Lough Boora Discovery Park. They also worked with local communities and organisations such as Lullymore Heritage Park and Abbeyleix Bog.
The advertisers said that in 2008 they conducted a Behaviour and Attitudes study which was validated again in 2015. This study demonstrated that only 12% of the Public knew a lot about them as a company, and their knowledge appeared to extend to their association with peat, turf and fire products, fuel, energy and heating. They reiterated that there was very little knowledge in the Public Domain in relation to the other areas which their business covered such as garden products, environmental products/development, electricity and waste management services.
The advertisers said through their advertising they wished to address some of the areas of their business which the Public had expressed an interest in learning more about. These areas included Resource Recovery (using household waste to create electricity), Electricity Generation (renewable energy) and Land and Property (restoring land to create places of biodiversity).
As a company Bord na Móna said they were conscious that they were on a journey, one that started 80 years ago when the Turf Development Board was set up (and changed to Bord na Móna in 1946) – to develop a sustainable form of an indigenous energy source for Ireland. They stated that that was a different time, and as their understanding of sustainability changed, they had continuously strove to move with the changes. They said they had set up their first wind farm in Ireland in Oweninny, Co. Mayo in the 1990’s and continued their journey to this day towards sustainability. They published a Sustainability Report in September 2015 ‘Sustainability 2030’ which outlined their journey. This was supported by a full media launch and covered by National and local press. They said it may be worth noting that sustainability covered people, planet and profit; and they tried to focus on all three. Therefore, while they aimed to move their businesses towards a more renewable future, as a commercial semi state they also had to meet with the requirement to be profitable and return a dividend to the State. They said they provided employment to over 2,200 people. in the Midlands. They also published their second 5 year Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021 which involved engagement with all of their stakeholders and many environmental groups.
The advertisers acknowledged that the journey they were on was a continuous one and peat was still a part of their business today and as such was featured on their new Corporate Website (http://www.bordnamona.ie/company/our-businesses/peat/) and in their new Corporate video which was supported through digital media advertising and was housed on the home page of their website (http://www.bordnamona.ie/ They said it was important to them that the Public were aware of all areas of their business.
In addressing their current advertising campaign the advertisers said the information provided was based on fact i.e. they supply power to over 8,000 households per year using resource recovery through their landfill gas facility in Drehid. Renewable energy from biomass, wind and waste to energy sources will provide power to 150,000 households in 2016 and will grow close to 250,000 households by 2020 (based on a 5 year plan to produce 1,107,207 megawatt hours (MWh) of Renewable Energy Supply – Electricity (RES-E) annually by 2020). They are working on reaching this target by focussing their intention on converting solar power into electricity and have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ESB to begin a project on solar energy in 2016.
They said their calculations were based on data from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) latest publication (Nov 2015) “Energy in Ireland 1990 – 2014- 2015 Report” wherein it cited “the average dwelling consumed… 4,610kWh (4.16MWh) of electricity” per annum. In 2016 Bord na Móna expected MWh RES-E to be 720,675, therefore: 720, 675/4.61 = 156,326 households that will be powered by electricity produced by them from renewable sources.
The advertisers said their radio and press advertising demonstrated that they were looking for innovative ways to work responsibly with nature and lead the change to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.
In conclusion the advertisers said they wished to draw attention to the following examples of their work; some of which they had already drawn attention to in their earlier response:
• In their Edenderry power plant, they are co-firing currently at 37% biomass which enables the plant to qualify for hybrid plant status and qualifies under REFiT2 (as published in their Annual Report 2016).
• They have 3 wind farms in operation – Oweninny, Mount Lucas, Bruckana, a 4th in Oweninny had received planning permission and a number of others were in the planning process. (Annual Report 2016)
• They have a waste to energy facility at their Waste Treatment Centre in Drehid which can power over 8000 households Drehid (Annual Report 2014 – page 1).
• They have achieved over 70% landfill diversion – i.e. diverted waste from landfill through reuse, recycling and education (Annual report 2014, page 17, also Annual Report 2016)
• They have rehabilitated 12,000 hectares of peatland as published in their second Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021, and a Sustainability plan 2030 which demonstrates their journey away from peat for electricity generation and the associated rehabilitation that will go hand in hand with this.
• They are working with the ESB so that their two peat stations can work towards co-firing with Biomass, now that they have demonstrated capability at Edenderry.
• Their growing media is diluted with green waste at 32% (Sustainability2030, page 13).
• They have set up a Biomass business unit internally in Bord na Móna in order to source sufficient biomass to support their planned move away from peat for electricity generation and also to support biomass based innovation in areas such as solid fuels – e.g. biomass briquette which is currently being tested (Sustainability2030, page 16)
• In the past year they have sourced 320,000 energy tonnes of biomass and this is projected to grow to over 1m energy tonnes by 2020 (Published on Corporate Website (http://www.bordnamona.ie/social-responsibility/sustainability/) and also published in 2016 Annual Report).
Bord na Móna said the common point they were trying to make from all the above examples was not only what they had done and were currently doing, but what they were in the process of doing in order to help create a sustainable future for everyone in all areas, not just in the use of peat.
Complaints Not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that the advertisers had identified a lack of knowledge amongst consumers in relation to the various facets of their business, other than the peat/turf/briquettes area and that they wished to expand the understanding of the public in relation to these other elements of their business.
The Committee understood that part of the complainants’ concerns related to the absence of a reference in the advertising to the use of turf and peat in the advertisers’ energy generation. They noted that the advertisers had demonstrated that they were powering homes in Ireland through “green energy” but that the advertising had not claimed or suggested that they were powering all homes in this fashion; the advertising had clearly referred to the number of homes currently receiving this type of power and the number of homes which the advertisers hoped to expand to in the future. The Committee did not consider that the Code required advertising to reflect all aspects of an organisation’s business or products and that it was acceptable to focus on a selected element provided it did not mislead. In this case, the Committee did not consider the advertising to be misleading and did not uphold the complaints.
No further action was required in this case.