Elfbar: Vape firm claims it will survive UK disposable ban

Elfbar: Vape firm claims it will survive UK disposable ban

The company behind two of the UK's most popular vape brands says new reusable versions leave it "well-equipped" to deal with the upcoming ban on disposables, despite concerns over producers exploiting "loopholes".

 

Elfbar and Lost Mary have already launched reusable versions of their popular disposable vapes.

 

Elfbar said it was "addressing demand" for a tool to help smokers quit.

 

But critics say the vapes will not achieve the ban's environmental aims.

 

Councils have also warned that the UK government should not let producers exploit "loopholes" in the ban.

 

 

Green Fun Alliance is one of the main distributors in the UK of Elfbar and Lost Mary, which together account for nearly half of the British market.

 

It is owned by low-profile Chinese entrepreneur Shengwei Zhang, 51, who also controls the companies that make Elfbar and Lost Mary vapes.

 

The latest accounts for Green Fun Alliance show that its sales have skyrocketed as disposable vapes rose in popularity - almost tripling to £117.3m for the year to 31 January 2023.

 

In a filing with Companies House, Green Fun Alliance noted the government's plans to ban them from next April "will have a detrimental effect on sales and profitability".

 

"However, management have been preparing for this and are well equipped to pivot their business to the exclusive sale of non-disposable vapes and related products," it said.

 

 

Some signs of Elfbar and Lost Mary's future plans are already visible. In the past 12 months, they have launched reusable versions of their disposable vapes.

 

The main difference is that the liquid which contains the nicotine comes in a replaceable pod, and a USB port at the bottom allows the battery to be recharged. It means the body of the vape can be reused.

 

Photo comparing disposable and reusable Elfbar and Lost Mary vapes

Spot the difference: Disposable versions of Elfbar and Lost Mary on the left, new reusable versions on the right

A spokesperson for Elfbar said: "We are continuing to diversify our product lines by providing viable alternatives to single-use devices, addressing the demand for a harm reduction tool that is helping to assist millions of adults [to quit smoking]."

 

But critics contend that the new vapes will not deliver the environmental benefits which a ban was intended to bring.

 

 

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, was one of the leading voices calling for the ban.

 

A spokesperson said: "The incoming ban on disposable vapes must ensure that the definition of disposable is locked down, and avoids the potential for producers to exploit loopholes, including producers adding a USB port to disposable vapes to bypass these restrictions."

 

Scott Butler, executive director of Material Focus, a non-profit organisation set up tackle electrical waste, noted the growing trend of vapes using pods. "This switch may have negligible environmental impact as these are still items which are low priced and easy to throw away," he said.

 

Elfbar's biggest rival, Chinese government-controlled SKE, has launched a similar reusable version of its most popular product, Crystal Bar. It did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Green Fun Alliance acts as a distributor for Elfbar and Lost Mary products in the UK, handling sales to convenience stores and independent vape shops.

 

 

Sales of Elfbar to supermarkets are handled via its UK-based master distributors, companies such as Supreme PLC and Totally Wicked.

 

Green Fun Alliance made a profit of £8.3m, up from £1.9m the year before, and paid a dividend of £2m. That is likely to be just a small proportion of Shengwei Zhang's profits from vape sales in the UK.

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