The lawsuit, which alleges PepsiCo Inc. harms both the public and the environment with its products' single-use plastic packaging, was filed and announced by James on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
According to the lawsuit, the company, which has its global headquarters in Purchase at 700 Anderson Hill Rd., "contributes significantly" to high levels of plastic pollution along the Buffalo River, contaminating drinking water and harming wildlife in the process.
Additionally, the lawsuit also alleges that the company has failed to warn consumers about the health and environmental risks of its single-use plastic packaging and also misleads the public about its efforts to fight against pollution. James is now looking to require the company to end practices threatening the public and the environment and is also seeking civil penalties and restitution for the pollution inflicted upon New York, according to her office.
"No company is too big to ensure that their products do not damage our environment and public health. All New Yorkers have a basic right to clean water, yet PepsiCo’s irresponsible packaging and marketing endanger Buffalo’s water supply, environment, and public health,” James said.
The lawsuit follows a survey of all types of waste at several sites along the Buffalo River conducted by the Attorney General's Office in 2022 that found PepsiCo’s single-use plastic packaging was the most common. Waste collection studies by both Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper volunteers and the non-governmental organization Break Free From Plastic also found that PepsiCo-branded plastic trash was among the most common types collected, according to officials.
Plastic pollution can be harmful because it can make its way into drinking water as microplastics. When consumed, these microplastics can permeate into bodies, blood, and organs, and even be transferred through the placenta into unborn children, officials said.
Plastic consumption can also cause reproductive dysfunction, inflammation of the intestine, and neurotoxic effects.
As part of her lawsuit, James will seek to require PepsiCo to remediate contamination it has caused, as well as implement measures to prevent the amount of its plastic packaging that ends up in the Buffalo River. The lawsuit will also seek to require the company to put adequate warnings on its packaging.
"No one should have to worry about plastics in their drinking water, plastic garbage littering their scenic riverfront, or plastic pollution harming wildlife. I will never hesitate to take on major corporations that put the health and safety of everyday New Yorkers and our planet at risk," James said.
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