Critics lambast TfL bus ‘greenwash’ vape advert

Vape adverts featuring on TfL (Transport for London) buses for the popular brand Elfbar have been heavily criticised for using the slogan “Recycling for a greener future”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received two complaints about the adverts, with complainants arguing that they are misleading around “whether their products are recyclable”.

The regulator said: “Our rules make it clear that any claims in ads, including green claims, need to be backed up by sufficient evidence.”

“Ads should take into account the full lifecycle of a product when they make environmental claims, and shouldn’t mislead by omitting significant information about a product’s environmental impact”

The advert’s critics include Greenpeace, who have launched a petition to ban disposable vapes and called it a “a shocking display of greenwash”.

“These adverts really are just a blatant attempt to bath an environmental menace in a thin veneer of greenwash,” said plastics campaigner at the charity Anna Diski.

“The truth is these products are one of the new defining images of our single-use throwaway culture. What other piece of tech is designed to be thrown away so quickly? Despite any claims to the contrary they’re close to impossible to recycle.”


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She added: “Almost all of us will have seen them littering our streets, parks and beaches causing harm to our natural world as any plastic does when its dumped out in the world.”

“That’s why councils were bang on the money when they called for a ban on disposable vapes and why the government should sit up and take action now”.

Waste charity Hubbub senior creative partner Jack Hodgkiss commented on LinkedIn: “Contender for the greenwash awards 2023? ‘Disposable’ vapes are extremely difficult to recycle. They can’t go in a normal bin because the in-built batteries can cause fires.”

“They can’t go into a mixed recycling bin because they’re electrical waste. Many electrical waste points actively turn away disposable vapes because recyclers are unsure of what to do with them, it simply costs too much to retrieve the materials within.”

He continued: “They are an addictive product that results in electronic waste, and it’s easy for people to get through multiple of these a week, conservatively, 1.3 million of these are used every week. They litter our streets and cost taxpayers money”.

He added that he hoped Elfbar would prove him wrong by launching “a significant communications campaign on what to do with old vapes and batteries. I also hope they offer to fund the recycling of these products themselves, as they shouldn’t profit whilst the public and planet pay.”

However, a TfL spokesperson said that the transport network’s policy “allows adverts relating to vapes and e-cigarette products on outdoor advertising sites”.

They also added that it works with advertisers “to ensure that any e-cigarette campaign running on our estate complies with the latest rules by the ASA and has appropriate messaging.”

Feature image credit: Jack Hodgkiss

Materials and packagingNews

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