PepsiCo sued by New York state for plastic pollution

PepsiCo has been sued by New York state for plastic pollution along Buffalo River that is allegedly contaminating the water and harming wildlife.

Attorney General Letitia James has launched the lawsuit alleging that PepsiCo substantially causes public harm in Buffalo, has failed to warn consumers about the potential health and environmental risks of its single-use plastic packaging, and misleads consumers and the public about its efforts to combat plastic pollution.

“No company is too big to ensure that their products do not damage our environment and public health. All New Yorkers have a basic right to clean water, yet PepsiCo’s irresponsible packaging and marketing endanger Buffalo’s water supply, environment, and public health,” the Attorney General said.

PepsiCo, which is headquartered in New York state, was judged to be the main contributor to waste collected at 13 sites along the Buffalo River and its tributaries. Of the 1,916 pieces of plastic rubbish collected with an identifiable brand, over 17% were produced by PepsiCo. PepsiCo’s plastic packaging far exceeded any other source of this identifiable plastic waste along the river, and it was three times more abundant than the next highest contributor.

The lawsuit alleges that PepsiCo has significantly contributed to, and continues to contribute to, the existence of a public nuisance that injures the community living in the city of Buffalo and the environment. PepsiCo has also misled the public about the effectiveness of its plastic recycling and its efforts to combat plastic pollution. For example, PepsiCo’s statements have misled consumers and the public by creating the impression that the company was making meaningful progress toward reducing the use of non-recycled (virgin) plastic in its packaging, but no such progress is being made. On the contrary, for the last four years, PepsiCo’s use of virgin plastic has increased year by year. In 2022 alone, PepsiCo acknowledged that its use of virgin plastic in its plastic packaging increased by 11%.

Coca-Cola, Danone and Nestle were all recently accused of making greenwashed claims about their plastic bottles.

Image courtesy Siemens

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