ELFBAR's Misleading E-cigarette Recycling Ads Banned by UK Advertising Standards

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ELFBAR's Misleading E-cigarette Recycling Ads Banned by UK Advertising Standards
ELFBAR's e-cigarette recycling ad has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for being misleading.

According to multiple reports by British media outlets, the e-cigarette recycling advertisement by ELFBAR has been deemed misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the United Kingdom.

ELFBAR's Misleading E-cigarette Recycling Ads Banned by UK Advertising Standards
The ELFBAR advertisement on London buses reads "Recycle, Create a Greener Future," followed by the recycling symbol. Image source: ASA/PA


According to reports, advertisements for ELFBAR's e-cigarette recycling campaign have been displayed on buses and digital billboards, featuring messages such as "Recycling for a Green Future," "Green Awareness," and recycling symbols.

ELFBAR's Misleading E-cigarette Recycling Ads Banned by UK Advertising Standards
Recycling device placed in the store | Image source: 2FIRSTS


Several companies, including Imperial Tobacco, have lodged complaints with the ASA in relation to this advertisement, claiming that the disposal of disposable e-cigarettes is not as straightforward as depicted.


ASA ruled that these advertisements left people with inaccurate impressions in terms of their environmental benefits and limited recycling options, therefore the related promotional posters have been banned.


ELFBAR has explained to the Advertising Standards Bureau that over 70% of individuals dispose of disposable e-cigarettes because they are unaware that these products are recyclable. The company emphasizes that the purpose of their advertisements is to motivate consumers to actively participate in recycling. They explicitly deny making any claims regarding the environmental impact or benefits of their products in the advertisements.


ELFBAR, a prominent e-cigarette retailer, has a network of 70 stores across the United Kingdom, all of which feature dedicated recycling bins. The company has clarified that the recycling process is carried out in collaboration with a professional lithium-ion battery and e-cigarette recycling firm. These products are then handed over to certified recycling organizations in the UK for proper dismantling and material reuse.


ELFBAR has stated that while it is not legally obligated to raise consumer awareness about recycling, the company has opted to make investments in this area. However, the Advertising Standards Authority has concluded that these advertisements give the impression that ELFBAR products are "widely recyclable," when in reality, they can only be recycled through designated ELFBAR recycling bins.


Regulators have pointed out that there are limited options for recycling disposable e-cigarettes, some of which may not be easily accessible to consumers. The Advertising Standards Authority has stated, "We recognize that ELFBAR's intention is to educate and encourage consumers to recycle through their advertisements, and they will take measures to increase consumers' recycling capabilities. However, because consumers may understand from these advertisements that they will be able to recycle ELFBAR's disposable e-cigarettes through various avenues, including easily accessible ones such as household recycling facilities, when this is not the case, we conclude that these advertisements are misleading.


The Advertising Standards Authority further stated that they have not seen evidence that ELFBAR's recyclable e-cigarette has a smaller environmental impact in the market compared to other e-cigarette products. They concluded that the claim of "Green for the future" could potentially mislead consumers. Ultimately, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that these advertisements cannot appear again and added, "We have told ELFBAR to ensure that future advertisements clearly state the basis of their environmental claims and do not mislead in terms of the environmental impact or benefits of their products.


In regards to this incident, 2FIRSTS has raised inquiries to ELFBAR, and their response is as follows:


We respect the decision of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and have taken steps to ensure stricter self-regulation in our advertising and marketing.


We are disappointed by any confusion that this advertisement may cause. Additionally, we regret the distraction it brings to our ongoing progress in our "green consciousness" recycling initiative, which is a genuine and important effort aimed at making it easier for adults to responsibly dispose of disposable e-cigarettes.


As part of an ongoing initiative, we have made our products more easily recyclable and dismantlable for the purpose of recycling. Additionally, we have plans to establish a closed-loop recycling system by 2025. We are committed to these measures and abide by the guidelines set by the ASA.


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