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Advertiser: C&C Group - Budweiser
Medium: Online - Company Website
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 15.2, 15.5
The homepage of the advertisers’ website included information on the advertisers’ use of renewable electricity. Statements made on the webpage included:
Ireland’s pubs have always had a natural energy. The energy of friendship and good times shared. Now, they’ll have even more. Budweiser is bringing 100% renewable electricity to 100 Irish pubs. Making them beacons of sustainability in our communities.”
Since January 2021, every single can, bottle, and keg of Budweiser imported into ROI is now brewed with electricity from solar and wind sources. Budweiser Brewing Group generates enough renewable electricity to power the brewing operations of not only Budweiser but also Bud Light, Stella Artois, Corona and Becks.”
The webpage also included a video that included the following statements:
“I think it's fantastic to be part of this project. To be able to come in, in the day or in the night, turn on the lights and say that we're using 100 renewable electricity.”
“Budweiser is bringing 100% renewable electricity to 100 Irish pubs over the next year. The aim is to turn our pubs into beacons of sustainability in our communities.”
“We are the first bar to get these solar panels and it is fantastic.”
“Budweiser is committed to more sustainable living. They've already invested in brewing with 100% renewable electricity. Now they are going to help Ireland's pubs on their path to a brighter future.”
Senator Lynn Boylan objected to the advertising on the following grounds:
Senator Boylan objected to the claim that the products were brewed using 100% renewable electricity on the grounds that no evidence had been provided for the claim. They said that if the evidence included the use of Guarantees of Origins, then this was misleading as it involved the use of non-renewable electricity being offset and was not therefore, 100% renewable.
Senator Boylan objected to the claim to bring 100% renewable electricity to 100 Irish pubs on the grounds that the advertising did not state how the pubs were going to be powered by solar electricity when they were traditionally open at nighttime.
The advertisers replied to the issues raised by the complainant.
The advertisers said that electricity produced from renewable energy sources comprised the electricity generation from hydro plants, wind, solar, geothermal and electricity from biomass/wastes. They said that from the 1st of January 2021, every Budweiser in the UK and imported to Ireland, was brewed using 100% renewable electricity. They said that this meant that the electricity used in the Budweiser brewing process was produced entirely from renewable sources (wind and solar) and that it was classed as “Scope 2 emissions” and applied to the brewery segment of their value chain emissions.
The advertisers said that the sources of electricity they used were a combination of on-site renewables and electricity purchased through regular utility providers. They said that the on-site renewable sources of electricity included their own wind turbine at Magor brewery, in South Wales, and the remainder of their electricity consumption was provided by electricity purchased from utility providers.
They also said that, through committing to a 20-year Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA), they had facilitated the construction and operation of several solar panel farms which were contributing more than an additional 70+GWH of renewable electricity into the grid every year. They said that the solar generated electricity purchased by them every year pursuant to the Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, generated more than enough renewable electricity to fully offset the amount of electricity purchased by them from their utility provider and was confirmed by Guarantees of Origin. As an example, they said that in 2022, solar panel farms produced circa 77GWH pursuant to a VPPA agreement whereas the breweries’ annual demand of electricity amounted to circa 73 GWH.
The advertisers considered that they use of the term “100% renewable electricity” was in compliance with the Complaints Committee’s existing adjudication on Case 40107 given the allowance of the use of Guarantees of Origins under EU and Irish legislation in verifying electricity from renewable sources. They said that they had proven, by means of Guarantees of Origin certificates, that the annual amount of electricity consumed was generated from renewable sources, as per the widely used methodology for validating such claims.
The advertisers said that the basis of the claim was that they are supplying 100 Irish pubs with 100% renewable electricity. They said that it was correct that they had paid for the purchase and installation of solar panels that were a source of 100% renewable electricity. They said that it had been done to aid and assist Irish pubs to become more sustainable.
The advertisers said that at no point had they claimed that any pub’s power was 100% generated by 100% renewable power sources, the website and the film stated they were ‘bringing 100% Renewable Electricity to 100 Irish pubs.’ They said that this was being achieved by putting solar panels on the pubs and was a simple and factually truthful claim that they were providing these Irish pubs with a 100% renewable power source.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1: - Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted that the complaint centred on the claim that “Since January 2021, every single can, bottle, and keg of Budweiser imported into ROI is now brewed with electricity from solar and wind sources”. The Committee also noted that the electricity sourced by the advertisers was a combination of on-site renewables and electricity purchased through regular utility providers which was offset with guarantees of origins from solar generated electricity from solar panel farms that they had facilitated the construction and operation of through a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement. The Committee noted that the advertisers’ reference to an existing adjudication regarding the use of guarantees of origins (Case 40107), and that their adjudication in that case was to issue a statement given that no claim had been made that 100% green electricity was being provided to an end user’s premises and that the use of guarantees of origins were permitted under both EU and Irish legislation.
The Committee referred to other adjudications regarding the use of claims around the use of 100% green electricity being provided to an end user’s premises, (Cases 39053, 39872 and 40016). In those cases, the Committee considered that claims that 100% green electricity was provided to an end user’s premises when the electricity provided was from the national grid and was therefore, comprised of both renewable and non-renewable sources was in breach of the Code.
In this case, the Committee considered that the claims made were that 100% renewable electricity was being used at the brewery, and given that some of the electricity used by the advertisers was purchased from a utility provider and was offset by guarantees of origin, the Committee considered that the claim that the products were brewed using 100% renewable electricity was exaggerated and was therefore in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 15.2 and 15.5 of the Code.
Issue 2 – Upheld:
The Committee noted that the claim made was that the advertisers were “bringing 100% renewable electricity to 100 Irish pubs” which the advertisers were doing so by purchasing and installing solar panels. The Committee noted that the complainant considered that the advertising was misleading as it had not stated how the pubs would be solar powered when they were traditionally open at night. The Committee considered that the claim to bring “100%” renewable electricity to the pubs implied that the pubs would be fully powered by renewable electricity. In the circumstances, the Committee considered that the inclusion of “100%” in the claim could mislead consumers and, in the circumstances, was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 15.2 and 15.5 of the Code.
The advertising claim at Issue 1 should not reappear in its current form again.
The advertising claim at Issue 2 should not include “100%” in future use