100% Recyclable? Courts Process New Consumer Claims Regarding Unrecyclable Plastic

To say that Americans rely on plastic bottles is an understatement. Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, with a recycling rate of only 23%.[1]  Given the massive implications for our environment, it is not surprising that 60% to 70% of consumers prefer to purchase and would pay more for sustainable packaging in their plastic products.[2]  

Aware of consumer demand, companies have increasingly placed environmentally focused representations on their products. According to consumers in recent lawsuits, some of these representations are false. For example, in the recent matter of Swartz v. The Coca-Cola Company, Case No. 3:21-cv-04643 (click here for a copy of the complaint filed in Swartz), consumers are challenging Coca-Cola’s use of a “100% Recyclable” representation across a wide line of Coca-Cola products, including Dasani, Arrowhead, Niagra, and Poland Springs water bottles. According to the plaintiffs, the bottles’ caps and bottles are not 100% recyclable because processing facilities are unable to fully recycle the type of plastic used by Coca-Cola, leading to tons of plastic being incinerated which release large quantities of greenhouse gases and toxic air emissions. The Swartz action is currently ongoing. 

Similar claims have recently been certified. Just last year, in Smith v. Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., Judge Haywood S. Gillian, Jr. of the Northern District of California certified a class of consumers who alleged that Keurig’s single-serve plastic coffee K-Cups were marketed as recyclable when the plastic used in the K-Cups were not able to be recycled by processing facilities. A copy of the class certification order in Smith can be found here

Consumers’ demand for recyclable plastic will likely only increase the amount of class actions lawsuits such as Swartz and Smith. “If you would like more information regarding this subject or any other consumer related matter, please contact Joshua Nassir, Esq. at Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP.   


[1] https://www.ecowatch.com/plastic-bottle-crisis-2450299465.html#:~:text=In%20the%20U.S.%2C%20Americans%20went,the%20Great%20Lakes%20each%20year

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/paper-forest-products-and-packaging/our-insights/sustainability-in-packaging-inside-the-minds-of-us-consumers

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