Environmental group Earth Island Institute filed a lawsuit in California last week against Coke, Pepsi, Nestlé, and a number of other plastic polluters for knowingly misleading the public about how much of their produced plastic is being recycled (and landing in the ocean instead), VICE reports.
"These companies should bear the responsibility for choking our ecosystem with plastic,” said David Phillips, executive director of Earth Island Institute, in a statement sent to The Guardian. "They know very well that this stuff is not being recycled, even though they are telling people on the labels that it is recyclable and making people feel like it’s being taken care of."
“At this rate, plastic is set to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050,” the complaint reads, as quoted by VICE. The complaint also alleges that the ten companies named in the suit are guilty of engaging in a "decades-long campaign to deflect blame for the plastic pollution crisis to consumers."
"This is the first suit of its kind," Phillips said in a statement. "These companies are going to have to reveal how much they’ve known about how little of this stuff is being recycled."
According to 2017 numbers, the US only recycled roughly nine percent of all produced plastic with the rest ending up in incinerators (about 12 percent), or the landfill.
And that was before China, formerly America's largest importer of recycling materials, banned most types of plastic imports in 2018. The ban is causing recycling programs across the globe to stall — and landfills to pile up.
Beverage companies shot back saying that they were already working on a solution, of course:
"America’s beverage companies are already taking action to address the issue by reducing our use of new plastic, investing to increase the collection of our bottles [...], and collaborating with legislators and third-party experts to achieve meaningful policy resolutions," read a statement by an American Beverage Association spokesman, as quoted by Bloomberg.
READ MORE: Coke and Pepsi sued for creating a plastic pollution ‘nuisance’ [The Guardian]
More on plastic: China Announces Plan to Ban Single-Use Plastics