Last week, California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, filed suit in Orange County Superior Court to stop false labeling of bottled water products. (You can read the press release
here: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Sues Plastic Water Bottle Companies over Misleading Claims of Biodegradability).
The companies that have “green washed” their products are Balance Water of New Jersey and AquaMantra of California. Both sell bottled water in PET plastic bottles produced by ENSO Plastics of Arizona. Labeling on the bottles states that they are “100% biodegradable and recyclable,” due to a microbial element (presumably proprietary) used in making the bottles that may cause them to break down more quickly.
According to Sustainable Food News, the companies have run afoul of a 2008 California law that prohibits labeling plastic food or beverage containers as “biodegradable,” “degradable” or “decomposable.”
In a landfill setting, any breakdown of plastic is inhibited, and plastic does not biodegrade in the sense of eventually dissolving into natural elements. Instead, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, which infiltrate our environment and even our bodies (see this earlier post on the damage that plastic is causing throughout the world’s oceans).
Not only is the claim of biodegradability false, but so too is the claim of recyclability. The Association of Post Consumer Plastic Recyclers views the microbial agent in the ENSO bottles as a “destructive contaminant.”
If you’ve not seen Annie Leonard’s Story of Bottled Water , please watch it for a more comprehensive look at the recent phenomenon of single-serve bottled water. Billed as the healthy choice, bottled water has an invaluable place in emergency situations. But unfortunately, its widespread non-emergency use contributes substantially to excessive waste and resource depletion.
Download the AG’s Complaint [PDF 467 kb / 17 pg]