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Coke and Pepsi Are Getting Sued for Lying About Recycling

Coke, Pepsi and several other big plastic polluters are getting sued for lying about their products’ recyclability and clogging up the oceans with millions of tons of waste. A California-based environmental group, the Earth Island Institute, filed the lawsuit in San Mateo County on Thursday against the companies, arguing that they’ve knowingly polluted the oceans…

Coke and Pepsi Are Getting Sued for Lying About Recycling

Coke, Pepsi and several other big plastic polluters are getting sued for lying about their products’ recyclability and clogging up the oceans with millions of tons of waste.

A California-based environmental group, the Earth Island Institute, filed the lawsuit in San Mateo County on Thursday against the companies, arguing that they’ve knowingly polluted the oceans while misleading the public. The lawsuit notes that 8 million to 20 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year — and that much of it can be traced back to these few companies.

“At this rate, plastic is set to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit calls on these companies to pay to clean up the mess they’ve allegedly made — and to stop labeling their plastic bottles as recyclable. Convincing the public that the solution to plastics pollution is recycling is fundamentally misleading, the complaint argues, because so little plastic actually gets recycled.

Recent studies suggest of the plastic produced since the 1950s, 91% of it hasn’t been recycled. Instead, the scrap winds up in landfills, burned in incinerators, or in the oceans.

But in 2018, China, which used to buy up most of the U.S.’ plastic scrap, passed a ban on most types of plastic imports. Smaller countries have tried to pick up the pace on plastics recycling but haven’t been able to sustain it. It’s likely that less than 5% of plastic produced today is getting recycled, according to an estimate from the Plastic Pollution Coalition. The group projects that the rate will drop further if other countries follow China’s lead and ban plastic scrap imports.

“This is the first lawsuit directly to take on these plastic peddlers who for years have spread the fake narrative that their products can be recycled when they know in many cases this is simply not true,” Josh Floum, president of Earth Island’s board of directors, said in a statement.

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