Two funeral providers’ advertisements have been banned because they misleadingly implied that their MDF coffins were more environmentally friendly than other alternatives.
Golden Leaves and JC Atkinson & Son advertise “eco-friendly”, “eco-friendly” or “green” funerals with wooden or MDF coffins, with Golden Leaves adding: “Choosing an environmentally friendly funeral not only helps your loved one, but A positive statement of intent to help protect the world we live in.”
After selecting “Eco” on the JC Atkinson & Son site, consumers see a selection of coffins with a “Reflection Catalogue”, which states: “The eco-friendly Reflection range is for those who want a truly personalized tribute.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and LifeArt Coffins have challenged whether eco-friendly claims are misleading and can be substantiated.
JC Atkinson & Son said it would remove claims that its coffins were eco-friendly but said it could be proven.
Golden Leaves said claims that its coffins and funerals were “green” or “eco-friendly” should be understood as part of their whole package offering of funeral plans, which they designed to promote an environmentally conscious message.
These included promotional material, produced with water-based ink on recycled paper, the sustainable nature of the type of coffin used and carbon offsetting techniques – for example, planting replacement trees and donating rainforest conservation.
Regarding Jesse Atkinson, the ASA said: “As the evidence provided to us did not demonstrate that the coffin had no negative impact on the environment over its entire life cycle, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
Of Golden Leaves it says: “Because we consider that consumers may interpret the terms ‘green’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ in the context of advertising as absolute claims about the entire life cycle of a funeral, and because the evidence does not support it. Buying a funeral plan from Golden Leaves has a net effect on the environment. would have a neutral or positive effect, we concluded that the claims were unsubstantiated and misleading.”
It added: “The ad will not appear again in its current form. We asked Golden Leaves not to state or imply that their products have a net neutral or positive environmental benefit, or that they prove this throughout their entire life cycle.
“We have asked them to ensure that the basis for environmental claims is made clear to consumers.”
A spokesperson for Golden Leaves said: “Golden Leaves markets eco-friendly funeral plans, helping you to reduce the environmental impact of your funeral.
“The ASA considers that consumers will believe that plans will prevent or neutralize rather than minimize all environmental impacts of funerals.
“Given this finding (which Golden Leaves disagrees with) Golden Leaves has decided to remove this particular product range from circulation until further research can be carried out on the specifics in question.”