On Wednesday, New York filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo (PEP.O.), alleging the multinational corporation that makes beverages and snack foods harms public health and damages the environment with its single-use plastic bottles, caps, and wrappers.
In upstate New York’s Erie County, a state court heard the case against a sizable plastics manufacturer, one of the country’s first of its kind.
PepsiCo was charged by the Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, of contributing to a public nuisance by creating a significant part of the plastic debris discovered in and around the upstate Buffalo River. More than 17% of the trash could be easily identified as certain brands of waste, which was included in the allegations.
She also asserted that the company misled the public about its efforts to stop the pollution that plastics cause by failing to warn customers about the potential health and environmental risks of the plastics found in its more than one hundred brands. According to James, this type of pollution may make its way into drinking water once it degrades, contributing to health problems.
“All New Yorkers have a basic right to clean water, yet PepsiCo’s irresponsible packaging and marketing endanger Buffalo’s water supply, environment, and public health,” James stated in a prepared statement.
A representative from PepsiCo stated that the firm, headquartered in Purchase, New York, is “serious about plastic reduction and effective recycling” and is dedicated to collaborating with the communities in which it operates.
According to the spokesperson, PepsiCo has collaborated with several partners nationwide to enhance recycling infrastructure and raise consumer awareness of the significance of recycling.
PepsiCo is the parent company of well-known brands such as Cheetos, Cracker Jack, Doritos, Fritos, Gatorade, Lay’s, Lipton, Mountain Dew, Ocean Spray, Quaker, Ruffles, and Tostitos. Pepsi cola is one such brand.
The complaint says that animals that were exposed to plastic additives and microplastics had changes in the way their reproductive organs worked and a higher rate of cancer. Researchers think that the same consequences might occur in people—the breakdown of plastics produces microscopic particles known as microplastics.
In addition, it was stated that PepsiCo had misled customers by proclaiming goals to decrease the amount of non-recycled plastic used in its packaging when, in reality, it had increased its utilization of this material.
A lawsuit has been filed against PepsiCo to compel the company to stop generating a nuisance, clear up pollution, and compensate for damages caused by plastic garbage.
Additionally, it wants an injunction prohibiting the sale of single-use plastic in the Buffalo region without warnings, stating that the packaging may create pollution and pose concerns to human health and the natural environment.
Environmentalists have hailed the case as a pivotal development in the ongoing conflict over plastic garbage disposal, and others have suggested that it might serve as a model for other jurisdictions (such as states, counties, and municipalities).
“Not only should other companies be watching this carefully, but they should proactively reduce their plastic pollution so that they are not subject to similar lawsuits,” said Judith Enck, the head of the advocacy group Beyond Plastics. Beyond Plastics is an organization that is working to end the use of single-use plastics.
When Barack Obama was in office, Enck was a regional administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Connecticut and Minnesota have both filed lawsuits linked to plastics, charging corporations with engaging in deceptive marketing practices by selling recyclable bags that cannot be recycled in state facilities.
In the meantime, California declared in 2022 that it would launch an investigation into the contribution of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries to plastic-related pollution. During trading on Wednesday on the Nasdaq, shares of PepsiCo finished the day 86 cents down at $167.25.