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Vape adverts on London buses criticised for recycling message

by nytime
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The advertising watchdog is reviewing complaints that disposable vape adverts carried on London’s transport network give out “misleading” environmental messages.

The adverts feature the words “Recycling for a greener future”.

But complainants say they are not recyclable – a claim backed by councils and environmental groups.

Transport for London (TfL) said it worked with advertisers to ensure all campaigns fell within the rules.

Single-use e-cigarettes, which are made of plastic and contain a lithium battery, have been criticised for creating litter, causing contamination and starting fires in bin lorries.

It is believed around one million disposable vapes are thrown away each week in the UK.

The “green awareness” adverts for Elfbar vapes are carried on the side of some London buses and on bus stands in the capital.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was “reviewing” the ads after receiving two complaints, but was not investigating them.

‘Veneer of greenwash’

Greenpeace described the adverts as a “blatant attempt to bath an environmental menace in a thin veneer of greenwash”.

Anna Diski, plastics campaigner at the charity, said: “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.”

Elfbar said the advert created awareness that e-cigarettes must be properly disposed of.

Some vape retailers operate recycling schemes and some local authorities accept them at their recycling depots.

It is believed more than a million single-use vapes are thrown away in the UK each week

However, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils, recently called for a total ban on disposable vapes.

The LGA said: “Single-use vapes are designed as one unit so batteries cannot be separated from the plastic, making them almost impossible to recycle without going through special treatment”.

A TfL spokesperson said it worked with advertisers to “ensure any e-cigarette campaign running on our estate complies with the latest rules by the ASA and has appropriate messaging”.

The spokesperson added that TfL met the ASA regularly and would “raise these concerns about how easily these products can be recycled as part of our ongoing discussions.”

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

Elfbar told the BBC it had developed new products that came apart, making them easier to recycle.

It also said it was introducing more recycling facilities and trying to encourage recycling through campaigns.

Follow BBC London on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to hellobbclondon@bbc.co.uk

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