Crackdown in California Over Bottled Water Greenwashing –

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Two bottled water companies and a plastic bottle manufacturer are misleading  California consumers by claiming their bottles are biodegradable, charged  California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris in a lawsuit last week.  The  state is suing to immediately remove thousands of bottles of Balance and  Aquamantra water made by ENSO plastics from store shelves under California’s new  environmental marketing law.

Greenwashing by Bottled Water Companies
Accusations  of greenwashing, attempting to make something or some company appear  environmentally friendly, against bottled water companies is nothing new.  Environmentalists and others have long complained that pretty pictures of  mountain streams and idyllic lakes on water bottle labels mislead consumers into thinking  that bottled water is safer than tap water and glosses  over the environmental impacts of the bottled water industry.

Water Bottles Become Litter and Garbage, Not Recycling
Claims by companies that their bottled water bottle is more eco-friendly than  the competition’s isn’t new either. CocaCola, Pepsi, Deer Park, and Evian are  among the companies that have a debuted slimmed down or plant-based plastic  bottles in order to capture a green marketing edge. But the reality is that  single-use beverage containers, which are mostly consumed outside the home, have  a dismal recycling rate. Most of these so-called eco-bottles  will end up in the garbage or on the side of the road.

Plastic Bottles Do Not Biodegrade and Biodegradable Additives Damage  Recycling Systems
Balance and Aquamantra are claiming that their  bottles are 100% biodegradable and recyclable and those claims are the subject  of the California Lawsuit. The state argues that there’s no evidence that the  bottles truly biodegrade or that they will do so in landfills, an environment  where newspaper famously survives decades.

“Plastic takes thousands of years to biodegrade and may never do so in a  landfill,” explains Attorney General Harris’s press release about the lawsuit.  “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,’” charges Harris.

What’s more, the additive that supposedly enhances biodegradability disrupts  plastics recycling plants and has the potential to wreak havoc around the state. “Even in small percentages, like one-tenth of one percent, these are just  catastrophic for us,” Ed Byrne, CEO of Peninsula Packaging in Visalia told the Mercury News.  “They melt at different temperatures.  They ruin our products.”

New California Law Means the State Can Stop Bottled Water  Greenwashing
The Truthful  Environmental Advertising of Plastics law that California Governor Brown  signed this fall expressly prohibits labeling plastic bottles or food containers  as “biodegradable.” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against  Waste explains: “We are not adding nutrients to the soil when  these things break down. We are simply breaking the plastic into smaller and  smaller pieces so it can’t be seen.”

ENSO Plastics is contesting the suit: “We stand behind our technology and the  claims that our company makes in stating that standard plastics enhanced with  our biodegradable additive are fully recyclable and if placed in an environment  with microbes, will naturally biodegrade,” president Danny Clark said in a  statement.

What do you think?
Do you consider the environment in  purchasing decisions? How should we hold companies accountable for their  environmental claims?

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