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Court dismisses Greenpeace’s suit against Walmart without considering claims

by Valentina Stackl

September 21, 2021

On September 20, US District Court Judge Maxine Chesney dismissed a lawsuit Greenpeace Inc. filed against Walmart, claiming the organization lacked standing for the case to be considered on the merits. Greenpeace USA alleged Walmart uses unlawful, unfair, and deceptive business practices by incorrectly labeling and advertising its various private label throwaway plastic products and packaging as recyclable.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Court dismisses Greenpeace’s suit against Walmart without considering claims
Walmart continues to mislead customers about plastic recycling

On September 20, US District Court Judge Maxine Chesney dismissed a lawsuit Greenpeace Inc. filed against Walmart, claiming the organization lacked standing for the case to be considered on the merits. Greenpeace USA alleged Walmart uses unlawful, unfair, and deceptive business practices by incorrectly labeling and advertising its various private label throwaway plastic products and packaging as recyclable.

Greenpeace’s lawsuit highlighted nearly a dozen examples of Walmart’s private label products with unqualified and otherwise problematic recyclable labels, and the organization alleges that these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, a product or package cannot be marketed as recyclable unless it can be “collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.” A violation of the FTC guidelines is also a violation of California law. Because the suit was dismissed on a legal technicality, this clear violation of the law is allowed to stand.

In response to the court’s ruling, Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar responded with this comment:

“Walmart sells more products packaged in throwaway plastic than almost any other polluter in the world. Big brands know their customers are growing concerned about plastic pollution, but instead of addressing real solutions they have opted for greenwashing. 

Walmart failed to take action when we pointed out that they were labeling packaging as recyclable when it was headed for landfills and incinerators. When we finally took them to court, Walmart used a legal technicality to challenge our right to file rather than addressing the substance of the case. 

It appears Walmart is going to continue misleading customers about plastic recycling until the law forces them to stop. Fortunately, that day is coming soon. SB 343 will end this kind of greenwashing in California, and nationwide legislation is soon to follow.

The failure of companies like Walmart to move away from single-use plastic and shift to reuse, refill, and package free approaches is prompting a wave for regulations across the US and around the world. The more they duck responsibility, the greater the demand for stronger regulations.”

Greenpeace USA is reviewing the court’s ruling and evaluating all legal options. 

 

ENDS

 

Contact: Valentina Stackl, Greenpeace USA, [email protected], +1 (734) 276 6260

Valentina Stackl

By Valentina Stackl

Valentina Stackl is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural communications specialist and storyteller. As Senior Communications Officer, Valentina works on Democracy (including criminalization of protest) and Climate for media, storytelling, and other communications projects.

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