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    Elf Bar ad banned over misleading recycling claim

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    Advertisement for the vaping company Elf Bar have been banned over the slogan “recycling for a greener future” over concern they were misleading in reference of recycling of discarded vapes.

    The advert, which was banned by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), gave the impression that recycling vapes was easy and could be done at home in contrast to the fact that vaping products cannot generally be home recycled, but rather have to be taken to special facilities such as council-run waste centres.

    The ads appeared on buses and digital billboards in London in July and August. They carried images of the Elf Bar 600 V2 vape alongside the words “recycling for a greener future” and “green awareness”. Both were the subject of complaints to the regulator by Adfree Cities and others.

    The ASA received ten complaints, including from Adfree Cities and Imperial Tobacco Ltd. Most complainants challenged that the ads were misleading because they did not make clear there were only limited recycling options for the products. Adfree Cities also challenged whether the ads misleadingly highlighted an environmental benefit that resulted from a legal obligation to which competing products were also subject.

    The advert was found to be in breach of eight codes relating to misleading advertising, qualification, environmental claims and substantiation. It also misleadingly highlighted an environmental benefit – offering recycling options – that resulted from a legal obligation that competing products were also subject to.

    The ASA instructed Elf Bar to ensure that the ads must not appear again in the forms complained of and that future campaigns did not mislead about the environmental impact or benefit of the products.

    The ASA said in its ruling, “We acknowledged Elf Bar’s intention was for the ads to educate and encourage consumers to recycle, and that they would be undertaking initiatives that would increase consumers’ ability to do so.

    “However, because consumers would understand from the ads that they would be able to recycle Elf Bar’s single-use vapes through a wide variety of routes including by easily accessible routes such as home recycling provisions, when that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading.”

    ELFBAR said that research by Material Focus (a not-for-profit organisation aiming to ensure that electricals were reused and recycled), conducted in 2023, had shown that 70 per cent of people threw away their single-use vapes because they did not know they were recyclable. The general intention of the ads was therefore to raise awareness that their vapes could be recycled and to encourage consumers to engage with recycling.

     Adfree Cities meanwhile has called for a total ban on advertising nicotine vapes.

    “Just as cigarettes scar the bodies of smokers, so has the rise in popularity of disposable vapes left a toxic legacy of plastic and harmful battery metals on our environment,” James Ward, a campaigner at Adfree Cities, said.

    “Advertising for nicotine-containing vapes is prohibited on TV, radio, in print and online. That it is permitted on outdoor advertising is a glaring loophole in the law and highlights how outdoor advertising sadly so often provides a willing platform for polluting companies.”

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