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

About Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP

Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP focuses on complex civil litigation, including securities, antitrust, wage and hour, personal injury and consumer class actions as well as shareholder derivative and merger and transactional litigation. The firm is headquartered in New York, and maintains offices in California, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Since its founding in 1995, Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP has served as lead or co-lead counsel in numerous high-profile cases which ultimately provided significant recoveries to investors, direct purchasers, consumers and employees.

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About Joshua Nassir

Joshua Nassir is an Associate in F&F’s Los Angeles office. Josh focuses his practice on consumer class actions, representing plaintiffs in a variety of consumer fraud and false advertising cases.

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