Environmental group suing polluter for lying

Earth Island Institute filed a lawsuit against BlueTriton Brands, formerly Nestlé Waters North America, for false and deceptive marketing.

BlueTriton is a multinational beverage corporation headquartered in the United States that represents itself as a sustainable and environmentally friendly company despite its significant and ongoing contributions to plastic pollution and its depletion of natural water resources.

The company sells various brands of bottled water including Arrowhead Water, Deer Park Spring Water, Ice Mountain, Nestlé Pure Life, Nestlé Splash, Ozarka, Poland Spring, and Zephyrhills.

On its website and in various advertising campaigns, BlueTriton claims that it is a “sustainable” company striving for a “waste-free future.” In a particularly egregious form of greenwashing, the company explains that its name and logo — a blue trident (three-pronged spear) — reflects its role “as a guardian of sustainable resources.”

In fact, BlueTriton has done relatively very little to address the immense problem of plastic pollution and continues to falsely represent to consumers that recycling mitigates the environmental harm of its plastic production and use.

Furthermore, BlueTriton and its predecessor Nestlé Waters North America have been subject to numerous lawsuits regarding the company’s depletion of natural water resources and unauthorized water diversion.

“We will no longer stay silent when major corporations, like BlueTriton, lie to consumers about their wasteful and harmful business practices,” said Earth Island Institute General Counsel Sumona Majumdar. “It is time for BlueTriton to be honest about the fact that it makes immense profits from extracting valuable freshwater and selling it to the public in single-use plastic bottles, the vast majority of which will never be recycled and will instead pollute our environment for hundreds of years.”

Earth Island Institute has filed the case in the District of Columbia Superior Court, alleging that BlueTriton is in violation of the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA). The CPPA is a consumer protection law that prohibits a wide variety of deceptive and unconscionable business practices. The statute specifically provides that a public-interest organization, like Earth Island, may bring an action on behalf of consumers and the general public for relief from the unlawful conduct directed at consumers. If successful, this lawsuit will prevent BlueTriton from falsely advertising its business as sustainable, among other things.

BlueTriton Brands formerly operated as Nestlé Waters North America, one of the largest plastic-producing companies in the world, and owns a variety of beverage brands including Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Deer Park® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ozarka® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ice Mountain® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Zephyrhills® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water, Pure Life®, and Splash.

“BlueTriton brands like Deer Park, Poland Spring, and Pure Life are the same brands we see on so many of the plastic water bottles polluting our rivers, beaches, city streets, and parks. Research shows that microplastics are polluting our bodies too, in addition to the health impacts on people living near plastic production facilities who suffer from higher rates of asthma, fertility issues, and more,” said Julia Cohen, MPH, co-founder and managing director at Plastic Pollution Coalition, a project of Earth Island Institute and a global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries. “It’s unacceptable that a company like BlueTriton that produces all this plastic would call themselves sustainable, and it’s time they be held accountable for years of greenwashing,” Cohen added.

As a fiscally sponsored project of Earth Island Institute, Plastic Pollution Coalition is at the organization’s core of educating consumers about plastic pollution, including in the District of Columbia, and engaging in advocacy related to environmental and human health impacts from plastic.

Plastic pollution is a global crisis threatening human and environmental health on a massive scale, from the plastic-producing petrochemical plants that disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities to the plastic waste that is often dumped in developing countries to the toxic microplastics invading our bodies, which have been shown to contribute to cancer, neurotoxicity, reproductive issues, endocrine disruption, and genetic problems.

​​Earth Island Institute is represented by Richman Law & Policy, which specializes in consumer protection law.

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