New York has filed a lawsuit in opposition to PepsiCo over what it says is the company’s ongoing failure to attenuate the environmental results of its single-use plastic waste merchandise, significantly alongside the Buffalo River, which empties into Lake Erie.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Attorney General Letitia James accuses the multinational company, whose headquarters are in New York, of violating the state structure’s assure that each person “a right to clean air and water, and to a healthful environment.”
It needs the beverage and snack company to take affordable motion to forestall additional plastic waste air pollution and to adequately warn shoppers of how its single-use packaging impacts the surroundings. It additionally needs compensatory damages for the hurt already executed to the river, its shoreline and metropolis residents whose ingesting water comes from the waterway.
“Pepsi’s pollution has created a public nuisance that threatens our communities, and Pepsi has failed to keep its promises to reduce its use of plastic,” James mentioned in a press release. “We’re filing this lawsuit because massive corporations must be held accountable for the harm they cause to our environment.”
A PepsiCo spokesperson, responding to the lawsuit, mentioned the company is “serious about plastic reduction” and has been collaborating with “a variety of stakeholders” to enhance recycling infrastructure, enhance client consciousness and create sustainable packaging.
“We have worked effectively with a variety of communities across the country and remain committed to doing so,” the corporate mentioned within the assertion.
Though plastic waste is in all places, the lawsuit accuses PepsiCo of being the dominant supply of trash that’s been discovered within the Buffalo River and elsewhere.
A 2022 survey by James’ workplace of waste collected at 13 websites alongside the river and its watershed discovered that PepsiCo made up 17.1% of the waste that may very well be recognized with a model. McDonald’s made up the second-highest quantity.
“PepsiCo’s plastic packaging far exceeded any other source of identifiable plastic waste, and it was three times more abundant than the next contributor (McDonald’s),” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit cited related findings in trash pickups elsewhere within the nation, together with a 2022 study of waste collected at nationwide parks that discovered that PepsiCo’s packaging was a number one contributor of waste.
PepsiCo produces dozens of beverage manufacturers ― together with Pepsi merchandise, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Aquafina water, and Brisk and Pureleaf teas. It additionally produces dozens of snack food manufacturers, together with Lay’s potato chips, Doritos, Fritos, Cheetos and Sun Chips.
Its snack food packaging shouldn’t be recyclable, and the overwhelming majority of its plastic beverage bottles can solely be recycled a restricted variety of occasions, however most usually are not recycled.
“In 2020, only 26.6% of PET bottles were recycled in the US, with the rest incinerated, sent to landfills, or discarded directly or indirectly into the environment,” the lawsuit states, showing to cite an annual report from the National Association for PET Container Resources.
Any plastic that’s not utterly destroyed breaks down into microplastics, which enter ingesting water and animal and human our bodies, research have discovered.
“Microplastic reduces root growth in aquatic plants, birds die from entanglement, and fish species show injury and inflammatory responses when microplastics are ingested. Microplastic exposure can also cause neurotoxic effects in animals, such as oxidative stress and inhibition of neurotransmitters important in brain functioning,” the swimsuit states.
No “meaningful progress” is being made by PepsiCo to scale back plastic waste. Instead, the company has continued to extend its manufacturing of latest, non-recycled plastic, the swimsuit states.
PepsiCo has introduced a objective to design 100% of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable, biodegradable or reusable by 2025, although Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods North America, told CNBC this yr that the know-how round biodegradable packaging is “still nascent.”
The lawsuit additionally accuses the corporate of repeatedly setting environmental objectives that it doesn’t attain.
James’ workplace prompt inserting a warning on PepsoCo merchandise’ packaging about its potential contribution to plastic air pollution and the way this air pollution impacts human health and the surroundings.