Monday, February 8th, 2010

Audi’s “Green Police”: Don’t Bite the (Plastic) Hand That Feeds You

So, did you watch Audi’s “Green Police” commercial (see above) during the Super Bowl? Eventually, it gets around to touting the company’s A3 TDI clean diesel vehicle as a good environmental choice — the “Green Car of the Year” (according to Green Car Journal). It is clever and makes great use of a parody re-recording of “Dream Police” — the 1979 power pop hit by Cheap Trick.  And most of the ad is hilarious — I particularly like the poor guy in his kitchen who gets nabbed in the spotlight of a “green police” sting  as he throws melon rinds and orange peels into his trash can: “Put the rind down! Sir, that’s a compost infraction!” 

But to the plastics industry, some of the commercial’s bits were not at all funny — especially coming from the auto industry, which can thank plastics for many of its innovations.  Audi’s campaign (yes, there will be more ads) features several plastics products in an unfair and unflattering way — specifically regarding plastic grocery bags, bottles and foam cups. On the contrary, these items are lighter than alternatives, saving fuel during transportation and producing less greenhouse emissions. Ironically, recycled plastics products are increasingly being used to make parts in new cars — including new Audi cars.

With this TV ad, Audi essentially bites the plastic hand that feeds it – the plastics industry that make its precious A3 TDI so environmentally sound to begin with! In it’s press release extoling the “Green Car of the Year” recognition, Audi points out the A3 TDI’s fantastic fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions benefits. Unfortunately, it fails to mention that this fuel economy and many of the car’s features could not be achieved without plastics. Check out this video of the A3 TDI that highlights the innovative uses of plastics throughout the car.

On this blog we have pointed out time and time again the enormous benefits that the increasing use of plastics has brought to the auto and aerospace industries – from weight savings to support reduction of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions to substantial design freedom allowing advanced creativity and innovation. Audi’s own marketing touts its use of lighter materials, including plastics, to cut fuel consumption. We have also tried here and there to point out the health and safety merits of plastics packaging, and, in many posts, the importance of plastics recycling and our industry’s efforts to do so. 

Audi’s “Green Police” ad uses over-the-top humor to make a point: We all can make choices every day to help the environment – in the cars we drive, the products we buy and the way we use them.  But the company is also speaking out of both sides of it’s mouth when it comes to plastics. Get the facts – about bags, polystyrene foam cups, bottles and more —  at

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