Lawsuit targets illegal sales of plastic bags in California

WASHINGTON, June 6 (Reuters) – An environmental group said on Monday it sued two major California retailers to stop them selling thicker plastic bags that are supposed to be recyclable but cannot be recycled in the state.

On Friday, the plaintiff, The Last Beach Cleanup, sued supermarket chains Gelson’s and Stater Bros. Markets in a state superior court, saying they violated California recycling laws, contaminated recycling systems and polluted the environment.

“The Last Beach Cleanup’s lawsuit seeks to protect legitimate recycling efforts, save taxpayer funds spent on cleanups, and protect the global environment from plastic waste and pollution caused by shopping bags. and plastic films,” said Jan Dell, founder of Last Beach Cleanup.

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The complaint alleges that the bags bear symbols that mislead consumers into throwing them into curbside recycling programs unable to process the material.

The lawsuit comes as plastic producers and consumer goods companies face legal, political and investor pressure to crack down on plastic waste and misleading claims about the recyclability of plastic.

Last month, the California attorney general launched an investigation into the role of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries in ‘causing and worsening the global plastic pollution crisis’ and their ‘aggressive campaigning’ to tell the public that recycling could solve the plastic waste crisis.

In March, a California resident reached a settlement with Keurig Green Mountain, which makes plastic coffee pods, after suing the company over false recycling claims. And last year, Last Beach Cleanup reached a legal settlement with recycler TerraCycle and eight consumer product companies, including Coca-Cola, forcing them to fix fake recycling labels.

The sale of these thicker recycled plastic bags emerged from what critics say has become a loophole in California’s 2017 ban on single-use shopping bags that allows retailers to sell reusable plastic bags for a minimum. 10 cents each if the bags can be recycled in California. .

The California Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling in December called on California attorney general and regulator CalRecycle to crack down on what it claims is illegal labeling that undermines the state’s efforts to curb plastic pollution.

Gelson’s and Slater Bros. were not immediately available for comment.

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Reporting by Valérie Volcovici; Editing by Bradley Perrett

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Bryce K. Locke