Innocent Drinks’ ‘greenwashing’ advert found misleading, rules ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declared an advert from Innocent Drinks – which relays the message that buying the company’s products will have a positive environmental impact – as misleading.

Plastic Rebellion protestors campaign against Innocent DrinksThe decision follows a months-long campaign for its ban from direct action group Plastics Rebellion, a sister organisation to Extinction Rebellion.

The advert, entitled ‘Little Drinks, Big Dreams’, claimed Innocent’s plastic-packaged drinks could ‘fix up the planet’, a message Plastics Rebellion labelled ‘intentionally misleading greenwashing’.

In June 2021, Plastics Rebellion delivered a letter to Douglas Lamont, CEO of Innocent Drinks, and the company’s Sustainability Lead, Simon Reid. It demanded an immediate stop to the advert, a public apology for its misleading message, and the organisation of a meeting with Plastics Rebellion before 10 June to discuss ‘what true circularity could look like and a way forward’.

With no response, the organisation staged a sit-in at Innocent’s HQ, Fruit Towers, with protestors dressed as fruit, on 21 June. The demonstration led to six group members being arrested for aggravated trespass and intent to cause criminal damage. No further action was taken.

In 2021, Innocent’s parent company, Coca-Cola, was ranked world’s top plastic polluter for the fourth consecutive year. Innocent’s Rotterdam factory, termed ‘The Blender’, produces 32,000 plastic bottles per hour.

A representative from Plastics Rebellion said: “You can’t be a major contributor to a global health and environmental emergency and claim to fix up the planet. Innocent are being disingenuous about the dangers of plastic’s threat to human health and environment, as well as trivialising the horrific scale of the problem by repeating the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’.

“They’re guilty of brushing the plastic crisis under the carpet and trivialising it. The truth is that the lifecycle of plastic is more carbon intense than aviation; incineration and chemical recycling are toxic; microplastics in the sea and air are a threat to human and animal health; recycling only happens nine per cent of the time, much plastic waste is still landfilled which is unsustainable – and anyone involved with profiting from plastic knows this.”

A comment from Innocent Drinks added: “Our purpose is to make healthy little drinks, and they do have to go in something. We’re genuinely confident that plastic is the most carbon efficient way to get it to people, and that encouraging recycling and the use of deposit return schemes will improve that even more.”