Drinks firms in trouble for '100% recycled' packaging claims

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bottle caps fell foul of '100% recycled' claims
Bottle caps fell foul of '100% recycled' claims

Related tags: Drinks, Ambient, Packaging & labelling

Soft drinks firms Pepsi Lipton International and Roxane UK have fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which banned adverts that attracted complaints for making 'misleading' eco-friendly packaging claims.

Lipton Ice Tea

A poster at a bus shelter for Lipton Ice Tea bearing a recycling logo and the text 'Deliciously refreshing, 100% recycled' attracted a complaint for misleadingly implying all the Lipton bottle was made from 100% recycled plastic.

Pepsi Lipton International said the '100% recycled' headline claim had a clear asterisk linking it to text clarifying 'Bottle made from recycled plastic, excludes cap and label'. The company accepted that the size of the text in the qualification was small and could have been overlooked, but maintained it was sufficient to clarify the claim.

The ASA considered consumers would understand the claim '100% recycled*' alongside images of the bottle with the label and cap to mean all Lipton Ice Tea bottle components were made entirely from recycled materials. It said the linked footnote flagged by the asterisk appeared in very small text in the left-hand bottom corner of the ad and therefore could be overlooked.

'100% recycled' misleading

It considered that the qualification was insufficient to counter the overall impression that all parts of the bottle were made entirely from recycled materials. As a result, it concluded the '100% recycled*' claim was misleading and the ad had breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 (Qualification) and 11.3 (Environmental claims). The ad in question was banned.

Elsewhere, a TV ad for Aqua Pura water aired in August 2021 claiming it was 'nature friendly' and ending with the text 'Hydration for the Nation' and '100% recycled & recyclable bottle with eco-friendly cap*'. The asterisk linked to text on screen that read '*relates to 500ml bottles only'.

Three complainants challenged the '100% recycled … bottle'; '100% … recyclable bottle'; 'eco-friendly cap' and 'it's nature friendly' claims.

Aqua Pura

Roxane UK, trading as Aqua Pura (Roxane) said the 500ml still water bottle was made from 100% ‘Terrachim’, a recycled plastic. It had its own recycling plant where recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic was made and this was used to make 100% of the plastic in the 500ml sparkling water bottle. The company provided reports that they said demonstrated this.

The cap was made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic and the label was made from polypropylene (PP). Roxane UK also confirmed that all components of the bottles were recyclable, and provided documentation in support.

It said the ad made clear that it was only the bottle itself that was 100% recycled and recyclable and consumers would understand that the claim related only to the bottle itself, not to the cap and label.

Clearcast

TV ad approval service Clearcast said the ad made clear that it, and all its claims, related only to Aqua Pura’s 500ml still and sparkling water products, rather than to the Aqua Pura brand more generally. The language used, together with visuals of the 500ml bottles only, and on-screen text that said '*relates to 500ml bottle only' made clear the claims were only about the products shown in the ad.

The organisation provided a report from a recycling certification company confirming that the bottles, along with their label and cap, were successfully processed at a recycling facility.

Roxane defined 'eco-friendly' as 'not harmful to the environment'. It said the cap met this definition because it was 100% recyclable and remained attached to the bottle, so would not be lost in the environment where it could harm wildlife.

'Eco-friendly cap' claim clear?

Clearcast said the 'eco-friendly cap' was produced with less plastic than other bottle cap designs and was a ‘flip to open, snap to close’ cap that remained attached to the bottle. Because of that, it would not get lost in nature and therefore helped protect birds and wildlife that were unable to distinguish bottle caps from food. Clearcast provided the bottle label, which explained the purpose of the eco-friendly cap.

Roxane defined 'nature friendly' as a 'sustainability and marketing term referring to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment'. It said the advertised products were not harmful to the environment because all elements were 100% recyclable, and it was protecting wildlife with the attached cap.

Clearcast said Aqua Pura had reduced the amount of plastic used in the 500ml bottles and caps compared to previous ones. In its opinion, because the cap was attached to the bottle and would not be lost in nature, the bottle was made from 100% recycled material, and the bottle, cap and label were 100% recyclable, the claim 'nature friendly' was not misleading.

'100% recycled bottle' misleading

The ASA claimed consumers would understand the ad to mean that all parts of 500ml bottles of Aqua Pura were recycled and recyclable. However, because the cap and label were not made from recycled material, it concluded the claim '100% recycled … bottle' was misleading.

In addition, the organisation said the 'nature friendly' claim required evidence that the 'eco-friendly cap' claim was true throughout its life cycle. As the cap was not made from recycled material, a full life cycle analysis of the cap was not provided and the ASA considered the cap to be made from a material that was harmful to the environment, it considered the claim 'eco-friendly cap' misleading.

As a result of its argument, the ASA also said the claim that Aqua Pura water was 'nature friendly' was also misleading.

As a consequence of these points, the organisation banned the ad for breaching BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 9.2, 9.3, 9.4 and 9.5 (Environmental claims).

However, the organisation said there was enough proof that all parts of the bottle were recyclable.

Mondelēz UK

Separately, Mondelēz UK faced an ad ban for an video ad for Dairylea seen on ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5 in August 2021. The ad featured two girls hanging upside down from a five-a-side football goal post and having a conversation about where food went when you hang upside down. One of the girls opened a Dairylea Cheese Triangle and proceeded to eat it, while hanging upside down.

A total of 14 complainants challenged whether the ad condoned or encouraged unsafe behaviour that could be dangerous for children to emulate.

Mondelēz UK argued the video included two parents in the background who were supervising the children, who were aged six and eight. Although the children were hanging upside down, they were nearly touching the floor and therefore were at a safe distance so as to not fall and hurt themselves.

The company and Clearcast said the ad had been scheduled away from programming commissioned for, principally directed at, or likely to appeal to children under 16 years of age. As a result, children were unlikely to see it and emulate the behaviour in it. It also provided links to research suggesting ingesting food upside down did not affect a person's ability to swallow and was a low choking risk.

Risk to children 

The ASA argued there was too much of a risk that children younger than those in the video would view it and emulate their behaviour. It also cited the Child Accident Prevention Trust, which claimed the scenario depicted in the ad posed a high risk of choking and falling and incurring head and neck injuries.

It therefore banned the ad for breaching CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 4.5 (Harm and offence), 5.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.4 (Children), 30.6, 30.10 and 30.15 (Advertising rules for on-demand services regulated by statute).

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