NEW YORK – PepsiCo, Inc., an American multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation, is one again on the limelight after the state of New York filed a suit against the company over plastic pollution.
The lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General Letitia James, claims that high levels of single-use plastics used in packaging its products is not properly disposed thus negatively impacting the environment and public health.
According to the Attorney General, the pollution is clearly evident along New York’s Buffalo River, causing river water contamination and disruption of marine life.
The state’s legal action is seeking to obtain disgorgement, civil penalties, and restitution for the damage inflicted upon New York’s communities and environment.
The suit wants the packaging packs to include a warning that tells consumers that the packaging is a potential source of plastic pollution and presents a risk of harm to human health and the environment.
“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,” James said in a statement.
The Gatorade producer responded by saying t it was serious about “plastic reduction and effective recycling.”
It didn’t directly comment on the lawsuit’s claim that it was legally responsible for keeping garbage out of the Buffalo River.
PepsiCo, which is headquartered in New York, produces and packages at least 85 different beverage brands including Gatorade and Pepsi products, and at least 25 snack food brands that mostly come in plastic containers meant to be thrown away or recycled once they are empty.
In past years, the company has repeatedly pledged that it would make meaningful strides to reduce its use of plastics.
The lawsuit however alleges that the opposite is happening, and that PepsiCo misled the public about its efforts to combat plastic pollution.
Litter from many sources end up in the Buffalo River, but the attorney general’s office said a 2022 survey named PepsiCo as the single largest identifiable contributor to its plastic waste.
Of the 1,916 pieces of plastic waste containing an identifiable brand, 17.1% were produced by PepsiCo, according to the survey.
The lawsuit comes shortly after Coca-Cola HBC, Danone, and Nestle were slammed with greenwashing allegations over their water bottle production.
The key points of concern were the terms “100% recyclable” and “100% recycled”, as well as the use of green imagery which prompts “the false idea of environmental neutrality”.
The accusations against the three multinationals were made by Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC), Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS) and environmental non-profit ClientEarth.
The Environmental groups have since filed a legal complaint against the three before the European Commission and the EU’s consumer protection authorities (CPC).