TerraCycle and 8 Consumer Product Companies Settle Lawsuit Based on “Unlawful and Deceptive Recycling Claims”

Companies Agree to Change Product Labels, TerraCycle Will Also Implement a Supply Chain Certification Program

A settlement has been reached on the lawsuit that The Last Beach Cleanup filed in March 2021 against TerraCycle and eight consumer product companies based on “unlawful and deceptive recycling claims.” The Last Beach Cleanup announced the Settlement Agreement today, “America Recycles Day,” to highlight the need for truth and transparency by product companies on recycling claims and labels, saying that instead of participating in harmful misleading charades, companies should redesign their products to be reusable or truly recyclable or compostable through existing curbside programs and local processing

As part of the settlement, TerraCycle and these eight companies (Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Late July Snacks, Gerber, L’Oreal, Tom’s of Maine, Clorox, and Materne) have agreed to change their product labels, and TerraCycle has also agreed to implement a supply chain certification program.

“Today is ‘America Recycles Day,’ and it’s traditionally a day for corporations to greenwash Americans about bad choices in plastic packaging. But we’re turning the tables today by announcing the settlement of a lawsuit against Terracycle and eight product companies, in which we’re calling for truth and transparency in labels and claims and demanding that companies get real about their packaging and shift to reusables—or if that’s not possible, then truly recyclable and compostable solutions that can be handled in local areas.”

– Jan Dell, Founder of The Last Beach Cleanup

The full press release is available here.

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Waste 360
September 1, 2021

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.

Global beverage company markets itself as sustainable and environmentally friendly while being the largest plastic polluter in the world

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

Washington, D.C. (June 8, 2021) — On the grounds of false and deceptive advertising, Earth Island Institute today filed a lawsuit against the Coca-Cola Company, the American multinational beverage corporation that portrays itself as sustainable and environmentally friendly while generating more plastic pollution than any other company in the world. The filing coincides with World Oceans Day, in recognition of the devastating impacts plastic pollution has on marine life, oceans, and coastal communities, and the dire need for companies like Coca-Cola to take responsibility for those impacts.

On its website and in advertising campaigns on television, in print, and across social media platforms, Coca-Cola claims that “our planet matters.” “Scaling sustainable solutions . . . and investing in sustainable packaging platforms to reduce our carbon footprint,” the company asserts. A “World Without Waste” declares the headline in one marketing campaign. Yet almost anywhere you look there’s a plastic Coca-Cola bottle trashing the public park, washed up on the beach, or piled in a mountain of plastic at a waste processing facility. What these advertising campaigns ultimately amount to is a mountain of greenwashing.

In fact, Coca-Cola was named the number one corporate plastic polluter for the past three years according to the Break Free From Plastic Global Cleanup and Brand Audit report. According to the report, 13,834 branded Coca-Cola plastics were recorded in 51 countries in 2020, reflecting more plastic than the next two top global plastic polluters combined.

“Coca-Cola has long been in the business of portraying itself as stewards of the environment while pointing to consumers as the source of plastic pollution. But it is Coca-Cola, not consumers, that chooses to use chart-topping amounts of plastic for its products. It is time this company is held accountable for deceiving the public,” said Earth Island Institute General Counsel Sumona Majumdar. “The more consumers become aware of plastic pollution, the more the company doubles down on its purported commitment to the environment to appease those concerns, but the actual results of their efforts tell a very different story. The company needs to come clean and be honest with consumers.”

Earth Island Institute has filed the case in the District of Columbia Superior Court, alleging that Coca-Cola 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 Coca-Cola from falsely advertising its business as sustainable, among other things.

“For 12 years we have advocated for a more just, equitable world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts, driving corporate responsibility to stop plastic pollution at the source,” 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. “We want the Coca-Cola company to stop the greenwashing and false claims, be transparent about the plastic they use, and be a leader in investing in deposit and refill programs for the health of humans, animals, waterways, the ocean, and our environment.”

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 problem and threatens 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. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of these issues and are too often deceived by companies like Coca-Cola, which claims that they are reducing their plastic footprint on the earth.

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

World Oceans Day is Tuesday, June 8.

More information here.

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Federal Court rules landmark case should proceed in California State Court

February 23, 2021 (Berkeley, CA) — Earth Island Institute, represented by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, received a favorable ruling today in its landmark lawsuit against 10 major food, beverage, and consumer goods companies for the nuisance created by their plastic packaging, including polluting California waterways with plastic trash and touting products as recyclable when they’re not.

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted Earth Island Institute’s motion and ruled that the lawsuit belongs in state rather than federal court. This decision means that the lawsuit against the companies can proceed toward its merits rather than facing delays involved with attempts to change the venue. Similar motions have been used by Big Pharma and Big Oil to try to delay or derail lawsuits against them. Judge Gilliam’s decision prevents Big Plastic from attempting the same.

“We are thrilled to be one step closer to a full consideration of the merits of our groundbreaking case” said Sumona Majumdar, Earth Island Institute’s general counsel. “Our lawsuit is about the harm caused by the defendants’ plastic products here in California, and Judge Gilliam rightly saw through their attempts to recharacterize our complaint in an effort to cause delay and obtain what they perceive as a more favorable venue in federal court.”

The lawsuit was filed a year ago, in February 2020, in San Mateo County Superior Court in California, against Crystal Geyser Water Company, The Clorox Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico, Inc., Nestlé USA, Inc., Mars, Incorporated, Danone North America, Mondelez International, Inc., Colgate-Palmolive Company, and The Procter & Gamble Company. The case alleged violations of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, public nuisance, breach of express warranty, defective product liability, negligence, and failure to warn of the harms caused by their plastic packaging. The defendants, however, sought to remove the case to federal court under various theories, including federal common law and maritime jurisdiction.The ruling today granted Earth Island’s motion and remanded the action back to California state court.

Mark Molumphy, a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy (CPM), lead counsel for Earth Island, said, “Today’s order is an important step in holding Big Plastic accountable for the impacts of their products in California. Plastic pollution is an environmental disaster that is getting worse with each passing day — this ruling gives the green light to move forward without further delay.”

“We look forward to presenting our case in state court,” said Noorjahan Rahman, the CPM attorney who gave oral argument on the Earth Island motion that was the subject of today’s ruling.

For almost forty years, Earth Island Institute, a leading nonprofit environmental organization based in Berkeley, California, has been developing programs and supporting projects that counteract threats to the planet’s biological and cultural diversity. Earth Island also plays a leading role in efforts to fight plastic pollution and protect our oceans, coasts, and marine life. Earth Island has filed this case in its own right and on behalf of the following sponsored projects:

● Plastic Pollution Coalition, founded in 2009, is a growing global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on humans, animals, waterways, oceans, and the environment. The companies in the lawsuit are held accountable by the coalition, which serves as an industry watchdog, driving corporate change on single-use plastic. Together with members, Plastic Pollution Coalition has created and amplified thousands of petitions, collecting millions of signatures asking these companies to change their polluting practices.

● The International Marine Mammal Project is one of the leading groups fighting to protect dolphins, whales, and the ocean environment from plastic pollution. The ingestion of plastic packaging produced by the companies in this lawsuit often impacts the health of marine life. IMMP is currently developing a comprehensive report on these impacts and compiling a record of dolphins and whales that are dying from plastic ingestion and washing up on shores around the world.

● Shark Stewards works on the front lines of marine cleanup efforts and observes firsthand the ubiquitous presence of plastics that are trashing our shorelines and ocean environments. The organization aims to help restore ocean health by organizing and participating in cleanup programs, by saving sharks from overfishing and the shark fin trade, and by protecting critical marine habitat through the establishment of marine protected areas and shark sanctuaries.

● 1000 Fountains is building a network of one thousand drinking fountains throughout San Francisco to provide consumers with alternatives to single-use plastic bottles. By providing San Franciscans with more drinking fountains, almost 300 million single-use plastic water bottles that are purchased annually can be eliminated, saving consumers more than $500 million per year.

Additional information about this lawsuit can be found here.

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