Earth Island Files Lawsuit Against BlueTriton Brands (Formerly Nestlé Waters) for False Advertising

Global beverage company markets itself as sustainable and environmentally friendly despite being a major contributor to plastic pollution and depleting valuable freshwater resources

Contact:
Sharon Donovan, Communications Director, Earth Island Institute
sharondonovan@earthisland.org, (510) 859-9161


Washington, D.C. (August 31, 2021) — Earth Island Institute filed a lawsuit today against BlueTriton Brands (formerly Nestlé Waters North America) for false and deceptive marketing. BlueTriton is a multinational beverage corporation headquartered in the United States that represents itself as a sustainable and environmentally friendly company despite its significant and ongoing contributions to plastic pollution and its depletion of natural water resources.

On its website and in various advertising campaigns, BlueTriton claims that it is a “sustainable” company striving for a “waste-free future.” In a particularly egregious form of greenwashing, the company explains that its name and logo — a blue trident (three-pronged spear) — reflects its role “as a guardian of sustainable resources.”

In fact, BlueTriton has done relatively very little to address the immense problem of plastic pollution and continues to falsely represent to consumers that recycling mitigates the environmental harm of its plastic production and use. Furthermore, BlueTriton and its predecessor Nestlé Waters North America have been subject to numerous lawsuits regarding the company’s depletion of natural water resources and unauthorized water diversion.

“We will no longer stay silent when major corporations, like BlueTriton, lie to consumers about their wasteful and harmful business practices,” said Earth Island Institute General Counsel Sumona Majumdar. “It is time for BlueTriton to be honest about the fact that it makes immense profits from extracting valuable freshwater and selling it to the public in single-use plastic bottles, the vast majority of which will never be recycled and will instead pollute our environment for hundreds of years.”

Earth Island Institute has filed the case in the District of Columbia Superior Court, alleging that BlueTriton is in violation of the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). The CPPA is a consumer protection law that prohibits a wide variety of deceptive and unconscionable business practices. The statute specifically provides that a public-interest organization, like Earth Island, may bring an action on behalf of consumers and the general public for relief from the unlawful conduct directed at consumers. If successful, this lawsuit will prevent BlueTriton from falsely advertising its business as sustainable, among other things.

BlueTriton Brands formerly operated as Nestlé Waters North America, one of the largest plastic-producing companies in the world, and owns a variety of beverage brands including Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Deer Park® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ozarka® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ice Mountain® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Zephyrhills® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water, Pure Life®, and Splash.

“BlueTriton brands like Deer Park, Poland Spring, and Pure Life are the same brands we see on so many of the plastic water bottles polluting our rivers, beaches, city streets, and parks. Research shows that microplastics are polluting our bodies too, in addition to the health impacts on people living near plastic production facilities who suffer from higher rates of asthma, fertility issues, and more,” said Julia Cohen, MPH, co-founder and managing director at Plastic Pollution Coalition, a project of Earth Island Institute and a global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries. “It’s unacceptable that a company like BlueTriton that produces all this plastic would call themselves sustainable, and it’s time they be held accountable for years of greenwashing,” Cohen added.

As a fiscally sponsored project of Earth Island Institute, Plastic Pollution Coalition is at the organization’s core of educating consumers about plastic pollution, including in the District of Columbia, and engaging in advocacy related to environmental and human health impacts from plastic.

Plastic pollution is a global crisis threatening human and environmental health on a massive scale, from the plastic-producing petrochemical plants that disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities to the plastic waste that is often dumped in developing countries to the toxic microplastics invading our bodies, which have been shown to contribute to cancer, neurotoxicity, reproductive issues, endocrine disruption, and genetic problems.

​​Earth Island Institute is represented by Richman Law & Policy, which specializes in consumer protection law.

As Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival gets underway June 13-16, 2019, so begins the sixth year of #refillrevolution, a partnership between Plastic Pollution Coalition, Bonnaroo, and Steelys Drinkware to provide branded reusable steel cups that eliminate the need for single-use plastic cups and bottles. 

The program has diverted millions of plastic cups and water bottles from landfill over the past six years.

“The best part of Refill Revolution is the support we get from our fans,” said Laura Sohn, director of sustainability for Bonnaroo.

New this year and as extension of #RefillRevolution, Bonnaroo has joined BYOBottle, a music industry campaign created by Jack and Kim Johnson and the Johnson Ohana Foundation, C3, REVERB, /rCup, Partisan Arts, Green Music Australia, Live Nation, and others, to rock reusable water bottles and turn the tide on plastic pollution. Bonnaroovians can bring their own empty reusable water bottles to refill at water stations to reduce plastic waste.

Learn more about BYOBottle. Artists, venues, nonprofit organizations, and fans can join here.

Photos by Brandise Danesewich

Follow the #RefillRevolution on our social channels: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

From its roots at ‘Roo, PPC is building a scalable Refill Revolution project for other festivals and events, supporting a true revolution in sustainability and plastic pollution reduction worldwide. The program provides festivals and event planners with models for developing a reusable infrastructure, top to bottom, while partnering on messaging and branding to get the word out to fans, followers, and other festivals.

Join our global Coalition.

Aiming to end the single-use plastic epidemic, Tap implores users to “Drink different” with its network of reusable bottle Refill Stations available to users in 30 countries and growing

Los Angeles, CA – Today Tap Projects Inc., a “soft(ware) drink company,” launched its namesake app, Tap – the world’s first global search engine for clean drinking water. Consumers report that the prevailing reason why they buy bottled water is “convenience.” Instead, Tap believes that bottles are purchased because thirst is highly inconvenient. Anyone can search online for the nearest gas station, coffee shop or nail salon, but when it comes to thirst, what options does one have? Go ahead, open Google Maps and search “water fountain” – how many fountains do you see?

Now, ask Siri or Alexa, “Where can I fill up my water bottle?”… They’ll have to get back to you on that. In the history of mankind, no one has ever indexed the locations and prices of clean water around the world…until now.

Tap has built a search engine for clean water – as long as people carry a reusable bottle, they will never have to buy bottled water again. From Amsterdam to New Delhi to Los Angeles, Tap helps everyone find water by connecting it to the Internet. Tap’s free app geolocates users to the closest water refill stations, empowering everyone to #Drinkdifferent by knowing where to fill up their own bottle. The app’s network includes free public drinking fountains, bottle refill stations such as those in an airport, and water “ATMs” where people purchase “unpackaged” water to refill an existing container. This app also helps drives awareness, foot traffic, and sales for businesses in the rapidly growing Tap Authorized Refill Network, which is composed of over 34,000 cafes, restaurants, and other businesses in 30 countries around the globe – that’s more locations than Starbucks globally. One day there will be millions of Tap refill locations.

“Our team has one mission: to save Earth and the people on it,” shared Samuel Ian Rosen, Founder and CEO of Tap. “Approximately one percent of Earth’s water is fresh and accessible. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Water is a basic human right, but it will be priced as a commodity as we face global scarcity. People around the world will use Tap to find the cheapest, cleanest water, thereby decoupling our need to quench thirst from the plastic bottle causing horrific pollution. Water will be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th century. Cleaning up our planet and preventing further climate change is one of the largest economic opportunities of the next decade.”

With Tap, thirsty consumers can simply open the app and filter the closest Refill Stations by whatever they crave, from unfiltered tap water to sparkling or flavored water. Together, Tap and its network of refill partners are freeing consumers of the marketing veil the water industry holds over our most essential resource. Globally, humans buy approximately 1,000,000 water bottles every minute, yet less than 10% of the world’s plastic is properly recycled. At this rate, the amount of single-use plastic ending up in our oceans will outweigh fish by 2050, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Today, powered by its network of influencers, celebrities, entrepreneurs and brand partners, Tap invites the world to #Drinkdifferent and pledge not to purchase single-use plastic water bottles for 30 days. The average American purchases 167 water bottles a year – roughly one bottle every two days. In only 30 days, the #Drinkdifferent social movement could save 4.8 million plastic bottles from landfills and our oceans, even if just one-percent of Tap’s social media reach completes the pledge.

Additional Tap features include:

● Directions – Navigate to Refill Stations with quick walking directions.

● Refill Station profiles – Find additional information about refill stations, like contact information

and other products or services they offer.

● Refill Station preferences – Filter through Refill Stations by selecting the water type like flat,

sparkling, purified, or chilled. Users can also filter through types of Refill Stations such as

public fountains, water ATMs, or pet-friendly.

Tap’s Current Refill Network includes:

● 34,000 Refill Stations

● 30+ Countries

● 7,112 Cities

● Popular cafes and restaurants, including Shake Shack, Umami burger, sweetgreen, Van Leeuwen, Dr. Smood, Bareburger, Barry’s Bootcamp and more.

“Barry’s is working on reducing single-use plastics across its studios,” stated Vicky Land, V.P. of Communications and Brand Strategy for Barry’s Bootcamp. “Being part of the TAP app is an opportunity to support our efforts for progress on a broader scale.”

“Umami Burger is proud to support sustainable initiatives,” added Sebastien Silvestri, Chief Operating Officer of Disruptive Group at sbe. “We are thrilled to work with Tap and further support their mission to reduce the amount of single-use plastics ending up in landfills.”

About Tap

Tap is the mobile app that allows you to find and access water on the go. The Refill Station network is made up of public places where you can refill your water bottle as well as partnerships with coffee shops, fast-casual restaurants, fitness studios and others who will do the same for no cost. Whether a drinking fountain or a filtered water ATM, you’ll be sure to find it on Tap. We’re expanding every day to make Tap a convenient and reliable alternative to bottled water and to help eliminate plastic pollution around the globe. Take the pledge to #DrinkDifferent.

By Rich Razgaitis, CEO and Co-Founder of FloWater

The Trump Administration announced a repeal of the bottled water ban throughout our National Park system last week. 

Amidst the current political turbulence among a series of hot button issues this decision might seem trivial, but it’s really not. Here’s why: 

It’s an illogical decision driven purely by the undue influence of companies who profit from it. 

This repeal represents a decision steeped in tacit approval of the lobbying power of big business with profit-at-any-cost-to-the-environment motivations. This represents a policy reversal in order to drive the profitability of companies that package and distribute single-use plastic water bottles. And let’s be clear, it’s no coincidence that this repeal comes weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary—whose involvement included his prior law firms’ work on behalf of one of the largest single-use plastic water bottlers in the United States.

It’s a decision that’s unduly influenced by behind-the-scenes deal making, special interests, and back-pocketing big corporations and lobbyist groups that nearly all Americans—on both the left and the right—have grown to despise. The opposition of which was one of the very building blocks that created a platform for two constituents (Sanders and Trump) ideologies that most agree represented the more extreme sides of the political spectrum. 

For those who supported Trump, this repeal of an important environmental policy – which only works to support big corporations single-use bottled water profit motives – is an explicit example of the very type of deal-making they declared, and specifically voted, that they were against. 

The basis for this decision is a significant step backwards for environmental initiatives, and an even bigger one in terms of our political leadership’s ability to separate solid policy decision making from the undue influence of powerful corporations and lobbyists that thwart forward progress of powerful policy that supports building a sustainable ecosystem. 

As an American who cares deeply about our environmental stewardship and our future ecological system that we’re responsible to pass onto our children, not only do I oppose the decision based on the environmental impact, I vehemently oppose it based on the basis of the conflict of interest represented by our new deputy interior secretary.

This represents a significant step backwards on environmental issues. 

The writer Wallace Stegner called our National Park system “The best idea we’ve ever had” and the idea of which was simple: to make sure America’s greatest National Treasures remain protected and preserved forever—and for everyone. The entire basis of our National Park System is one of conservationism. 

Yet, here are the facts about single use plastic water bottles.

  • The majority of 9 billion tons of plastic created since the 1950’s are still lingering around—though only about 20 percent of those products remain in use. 
  • Most plastic water bottles do not biodegrade; instead they photo degrade. One piece turns into two, four, eight, and so on—until the microparticulate are embedded into organic matter and poison our entire ecological and food system. 
  • American’s consume nearly 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles each year—80 percentof which end up polluting our oceans, lakes, rivers, and landfills
  • To produce these bottles it requires the use of 20 billion barrels of oil, not to mention the millions of tons of CO2 byproduct emissions via the production process itself
  • The Grand Canyon National Park alone estimates that bottled water alone represented 300 tons of garbage required for annual disposal. 
  • Nearly half of all bottled water is glorified and repurposed tap water, which comes from municipal tap water sources—at 10,000 times the cost of tap water. 
  • The plastics within bottled water can be laced with chemicals that can contain thousands of endocrine (hormone) disruptors, which can permeate into the very water you drink. Not only does each bottle pollute the environment but it also pollutes your body. 
  • A recent study of women in pregnancy showed those who drank bottled water vs. those who did not had babies that were significantly more obese at birth—this is the resultant effect of exposure to hormone-disrupting toxins that leech through plastic bottles over the short period of development in utero. 

Even though only about 30 percent of the National Parks have implemented a bottled water ban, with 300 million people visiting the National Parks each year this repeal has squandered an opportunity to educate and encourage people to do right by the environment and their own health by eliminating the use of single-use plastic water bottles. 

Plastic pollution threatens wildlife. Entanglement, ingestion, and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. 

Those supporting the repeal using arguments around the allowable sale of sugary beverages within the National Parks are missing the point and use it only as a red herring. To make forward progress with ideology, one must not use remedial arguments of “well, it’s better than…” And if there were a better argument, it would be one that substantiates a narrative around creating less governmental intervention in the free market—a general premise upon which I subscribe. Yet, there are critical and important measures where the government and policy should intervene—and this is yet one example. National Parks are funded by each of the tax-paying Americans in an effort to preserve and protect the environment—using “policy” to help extend those measures to keep the environmental toxifying effects, as well direct and indirect costs, of single-use plastic water bottles out of our National Parks is a premise rooted neither in a “right” or “left” viewpoint. Instead it is a pragmatic one towards doing right for sustainability—versus the profits of a few companies at our expense.

Instead, with this repeal it’s a considerable step backwards. One that removes sound sustainable policy designed specifically to support an ecosystem whose sole intent is to preserve some of our greatest natural resources in the United States—and we’re doing this by re-entrenching consumers access to an environmental cigarette: single-use plastic water bottles. 

Rich Razgaitis is the CEO and Co-Founder of FloWater. FloWater was founded in 2013 by a passionate team dedicated to a single mission: to put an end to single-use plastic water bottles while changing the way the world views water. 

Western Europe has some of the cleanest tap water in the world, but in last 20 years, over 50 million people have switched to single-use plastic bottled water instead. TAPP Water is on a mission to get Europeans back to drinking tap water with an ambitious waste reduction goal: 1 billion bottles by 2020.

TAPP Water co-founder Magnus Jern answered our questions and explained the challenges ahead.

When did you start thinking about tap water vs. plastic bottled water?

I moved to Barcelona, Spain, 10 years ago and one of the first things that struck me was that people didn’t drink water from the tap. Since I lived on a sixth floor without an elevator, carrying bottled water home was really inconvenient. Therefore, I got used to drinking the tap water even if it doesn’t taste that great.

Fast forwarding 7 years, the bottled water industry continued to grow and plastic waste with it. I discussed the issue with a friend of mine and we decided to do something about it.

First, we interviewed water experts in Spain and other countries across Europe and found out that the tap water quality is generally very good. The main challenge is poor taste due to a combination of chlorine, hardness, and minerals. In Barcelona for example most of the water comes from the Llobregat river, which is very hard.

How did the idea evolve into TAPP Water?

We ordered and tested more than 30 filters from the U.S., Asia, and Europe to understand what would be required to make water taste better. In parallel we did surveys, blind testing, and interviews to understand drinking water behavior, what would make people switch back to tap water, price sensitivity, and what kind of product would work best. We identified that the key to success was a product easy for anyone to install, a price point below $50 and a system to remind people when it was time to replace the filter. Based on this TAPP 1 faucet filter was born.

The customer response and feedback has been great. A lot of people say that they cannot believe the difference in taste from a filter that size. Secondly, they love that they don’t have to carry home bottles anymore and the reduction in plastic waste. So far we’ve cut plastic waste by about 200,000 bottles.

Great news! What has been the most challenging aspect?

Educating people and changing behavior is a big task. Most people don’t realize how bad the situation with plastic is or how much money they spend on bottled water. We’ve also found that although environmental consciousness is a trigger of interest, the majority will not spend money to reduce plastic waste. Therefore, the cost saving benefit is extremely important.

How will you reach your “1 billion bottles avoided” goal?

This is only the beginning of a long journey. To reach our goal and achieve our mission we need to continue improving our products, reach a lot more people and engage, inform, and educate. The great thing is that it’s a scalable model. With every filter we sell, we invest the profit in converting more people to tap water drinkers. This is how we can achieve our goal.

Thank you Magnus and TAPP Water!

Join our global Coalition.

When SodaStream, a manufacturer of home beverage carbonation systems, released their first video in the Shame or Glory campaign, the video quickly went viral on social media. Shame or Glory used actors from the hit TV show Game of Thrones to promote a clear message: single-use plastic water bottles pollute the earth.

Within weeks of the first video’s release, the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), which represents Nestlé and Fiji water, demanded that SodaStream immediately stop airing the video campaign.

Plastic Pollution Coalition interviewed Andrea Lewin, business development and partnerships associate at SodaStream to hear the inside scoop on this unfolding drama and why SodaStream refuses to back down.

Why should we all care about pollution from single-use plastic water bottles?

Single-use plastic bottles are shameful and are destroying Mother Earth. The majority of the disposable plastic bottles that we use end up in landfills, our beaches, and oceans.

The profiteering bottled water industry has been falsely misleading consumers to mistrust the quality of their tap water in order to grow their plastic bottled water business. This is a $150-billion-dollar industry, which has ultimately led to the production of over 200 billion plastic water bottles per year, causing undeniable harm to our planet.

The profiteering bottled water industry has been falsely misleading consumers to mistrust the quality of their tap water in order to grow their plastic bottled water business. This is a $150-billion-dollar industry, which has ultimately led to the production of over 200 billion plastic water bottles per year, causing undeniable harm to our planet.

Andrea Lewin

After releasing the Shame or Glory campaign, SodaStream came under attack from the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), which represents Nestlé and Fiji water. IBWA claims bottled water is being unfairly targeted. What’s really going on here?

SodaStream is going on the offensive following a cease and desist letter from Joseph K. Doss, the president and general counsel of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and long-time Washington D.C. insider. The letter demands that SodaStream cease airing its disruptive new video campaign, “Shame or Glory,” in which the brand advocates using fresh, local tap water to make sparkling water at home over the use of single-use plastic bottles.

In the IBWA letter to SodaStream, the IBWA implies that bottled water is safer than tap water. In fact, U.S. tap water is considered amongst the safest and cleanest on Earth.

Thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and subsequent amendments, as well as the on-going work of the EPA’s Office of Water, nearly all Americans have access to fresh, clean water straight from the tap. The IBWA’s implications seem designed to undermine the confidence that Americans have in their tap water, founded upon the existing regulations, the work of the EPA and the efforts of the Office of Water. This baseless fear mongering in order to boost corporate profits is cruel and misleading to consumers.

How is Sodastream standing up to the IBWA?

“We will not let the IBWA’s threats stop us from trying to save the planet,” said Daniel Birnbaum, Chief Executive Officer of SodaStream. “The IBWA, a front for major plastic manufactures like Nestlé—the world’s largest producer of bottled water—is nothing more than an elite group of like-minded corporate sponsors who prioritize their own profits over the care of our planet. I don’t know what’s more offensive: The notion that a huge corporate organization thinks it can silence a small company or that the message they want gagged is that plastic bottles represent a real threat to the environment. This profiteering group, whose financial gains are a direct result of the two hundred million plastic water bottles their industry makes every day, wants to silence us from telling the truth. Even more disturbingly, the IBWA want to convince consumers that there is something wrong with the high-quality, delicious tap water that is available in most homes in America. The documented and real threat we face is from single-use plastic bottles. If anyone is trying to mislead consumers it is the IBWA, not SodaStream in its campaign. So, no. We will not be gagged and we will not be silenced.”

I don’t know what’s more offensive: The notion that a huge corporate organization thinks it can silence a small company or that the message they want gagged is that plastic bottles represent a real threat to the environment.

Daniel Birnbaum

How is zero waste a better solution than recycling to the plastic pollution problem? 

Zero waste is for far a better solution than recycling as it only reduces the carbon footprint by 20 percent and the recycle rate is too low (less than 20 percent in USA). Every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists today, polluting our planet. There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic afloat in the world’s oceans. Yes, 5 trillion!

1 million sea birds and marine mammals are killed every year by the plastic floating in the oceans. Also, it takes more than 450 years for one plastic bottle to decompose in a landfill. Moreover, each year we burn millions of barrels of oil to produce single-use plastic bottle and cans also infecting Mother Earth. So basically, by avoiding the use of single-use plastic bottles and cans, we are saving our planet.

What is SodaStream doing to ensure good manufacturing practices?

SodaStream works under the strictest manufacturing practices and is certified and implements international standards such as: ISO 9001:2008, ADR, HACCP, BRC6, among others. SodaStream’s quality assurance processes and company products are under the supervision of leading organizations, which we see as partners to our success. They are always looking for improvement. 

How does SodaStream reduce its overall plastic footprint on the earth?

Each reusable SodaStream bottle is tested to replace over 50,000 conventional bottles and cans. By promoting the use of tap water to create sparkling water, SodaStream strives to reduce the need for traditional store-bought beverages sold in one-time-use bottles. This results in less plastic manufactured, less plastic waste, and less transport of bottled beverages.

In addition, SodaStream helps reduce the carbon footprint of sparkling water consumption by 80 percent. This is based on research done by the Carbon Trust in UK, which proved that relative to generic store-bought sparkling water sold in 100 percent virgin PET bottles, every 250ml serving of SodaStream sparkling water helps reduce the carbon footprint by a dramatic 80 percent! When SodaStream consumers use our product, they are actively reducing the global CO2 footprint.

Take the pledge to refuse single-use plastic.