Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Bottled Water Companies Sued over Claims of Biodegradability

State of California Department of Justice

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a first-of-its-kind "greenwashing" lawsuit Oct. 26 against three companies that allegedly made false and misleading claims by marketing plastic water bottles as 100 percent biodegradable and recyclable.

Under California law, it is illegal to label a plastic food or beverage container as biodegradable. Plastic takes thousands of years to biodegrade and may never do so in a landfill. The lawsuit is the first government action to enforce the state's landmark environmental marketing law.

"These companies' actions violate state law and mislead consumers," Attorney General Harris said. "Californians are committed to recycling and protecting the environment, but these efforts are undermined by the false and misleading claims these companies make when they wrongly advertise their products as biodegradable."

Balance and AquaMantra sell their products in plastic water bottles marketed by ENSO Plastics LLC. According to the label, ENSO claims that a microbial additive created the first truly biodegradable and recyclable plastic bottle. The bottles' labeling states that the bottles will break down in less than five years in a typical landfill or compost environment, but that claim is false because the additive does not speed up the centuries-long process required to break down plastic.

The claim of recycling is also deceptive. The microbial additive put into the bottle is considered by the Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers to be a destructive contaminant that can compromise the strength of the products they make.

Consumers may buy these defendants' bottles and either dispose of them incorrectly, on the assumption that they will biodegrade quickly, when in fact they will simply take up space in landfills, or they will try to recycle them, creating problems and costs for recyclers.

A recent Gallup poll found that 76 percent of Americans buy products specifically because of their perception the product is better for the environment.

In 2008, the California Legislature banned the use of words like "biodegradable," "degradable," or "decomposable" in the labeling of plastic food or beverage containers. Senate Bill 567, signed into law by the governor this year, will expand that law to all plastic products beginning in 2013.

Deputy Attorney General Raissa S. Lerner and Deputy Attorney General Laura J. Zuckerman are handling the case for Attorney General Harris' Environment section. A copy of the complaint filed in the Orange County Superior Court is attached to the online version of this release at www.oag.ca.gov. Also attached are photos of the bottles in question.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less