ClientEarth to take plastic giant Danone to court

The environmental charity is embarking on this latest legal challenge as global plastic waste production nearly doubled between 2000 and 2019.

ClientEarth, alongside French partners Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste France, has announced it will be taking global corporation Danone to court for its role contributing to plastic pollution.

The company, known for brands like Evian, Activia and Alpro, is thought to have breached a French law which requires businesses to acknowledge and address the impacts it has on health, the environment and human rights.

One of the top 10 biggest plastic producers, with products available in more than 120 countries, Danone produced more than 750,000 pieces of plastic in 2021, the equivalent of 75 Eiffel Towers.

sprite plastic bottle on table

The effects of plastic are wide reaching, as it can pose a threat to fertility, causes the ocean to acidify and is now the number one killer of marine life.

Rosa Pritchard, a plastic lawyer for ClientEarth, said: ‘Danone is trudging ahead without a serious plan to deal with plastics, despite clear concern from climate and health experts and consumers, and a legal obligation to face up to the issue.

‘It continues to rely on single-use plastic packaging in the hopes that recycling will miraculously deal with the flood of plastics it puts on the market. But recycling is a limited solution as only 9% of plastics ever made have been recycled. It’s unrealistic for food giants like Danone to pretend recycling is the silver bullet.’

ClientEarth says it sent several legal warnings in September 2022 to companies in France, such as McDonalds and Nestlé, which were not doing enough to reduce the plastic they produce.

The environmental law organisation said Danone’s response to the warning was not adequate and the corporation’s plan to improve the recyclability of its products was lacking.

Only 9% of plastic products ever made have been recycled, with recycling rates remaining low despite high public awareness and infrastructure overwhelmed by the volume and types of plastic on the market.

ClientEarth also said that Danone is found throughout countries on the receiving end of the Western world’s plastic pollution, such as Indonesia, putting extra strain on waste management facilities.

The group says the company should map out the impacts it’s products have on the environment, climate, health and human rights throughout their life cycle and should assess its plastic footprint, including plastics used in logistics and promotion. It is also calling for an extensive ‘deplastification’ plan, with targets properly quantified and dated.

The court case has been filed with the Paris Tribunal Judiciaire and is set to appear before judge for an initial hearing in a few months time.

Photo by Nick Fewings


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