Here’s Why N.Y. Is Suing PepsiCo Over Plastic Pollution Concerns


The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo on Wednesday alleging the company’s production of single-use plastic is polluting waterways in New York and subsequently endangering the environment.

Key Facts

Letitia James, the attorney general, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Erie County Supreme Court, alleging PepsiCo threatened public health by contaminating the river and public drinking water supplies and by endangering the ecosystem.

James alleged the food and beverage company misled the public about its attempts to reduce single-use plastic in its packaging.

She also said her office found that a disproportionate amount of the plastic waste found along the Buffalo River was from PepsiCo products.

James asked PepsiCo to reduce the amount of plastic packing that enters the river, to provide a solution for the contamination to the Buffalo River and to pay restitution.

PepsiCo did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Big Number

More than 17%. That’s the percentage of identifiable PepsiCo products that made up waste found at 13 waste collection sites along the Buffalo River and its watershed that were tallied by James’ office, according to the lawsuit.

Key Background

PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, has repeatedly committed to sustainable packaging practices in the past. The company said it was aiming to make all of its packaging “recyclable, compostable, biodegradable or reusable” by 2025. By 2030, PepsiCo said it wants to cut virgin plastic “from non-renewable sources” by 50% across its “global beverages and convenient foods portfolio.” James argued in the lawsuit that PepsiCo’s virgin plastic target “quickly proved unattainable” for the company and that two years after PepsiCo made its initial 2019 virgin plastic commitment, its use of virgin plastic in drink bottles increased by 5%.

Crucial Quote

“This is classic polluter pays,” Judith Enck, founder of anti-single-use plastics advocacy group Beyond Plastics, told Politico. “When you spill toxic waste on land or in the water, we have laws to require that the polluter pay for the cleanup. This is no different.”

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