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.

The lawsuit calls on these companies to pay to clean up the mess they’ve allegedly made — and to stop labelling 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.

Details of the lawsuit

The lawsuit is aimed at the 10 companies whose packaging was found most often in beach cleanups organized by another environmental group, Break Free from Plastic. Nestlé, Clorox, Crystal Geyser, Mars, and Colgate-Palmolive are among the other companies getting sued. Some of the companies sued have said they’re already fighting plastics pollution.

“America’s beverage companies are already taking action to address the issue by reducing our use of new plastic, investing to increase the collection of our bottles so they can be remade into new bottles as intended, and collaborating with legislators and third-party experts to achieve meaningful policy resolutions,” a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association, which represents Coke, Pepsi, and others in the non-alcoholic beverage industry, said in a statement sent to the Guardian and Bloomberg Environment.


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