Class-action lawsuit claims Evian Water’s manufacturing process is not as ‘carbon neutral’ as advertised

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A proposed class action lawsuit alleges that the “carbon neutral” claim on the labels of Evian natural spring water is false given that the manufacture of the product always causes carbon dioxide (CO2) to be released into the body. atmosphere.

The 29-page lawsuit says that while defendant Danone Waters of America can claim “carbon neutral” means its investments in environmentally friendly projects “offset” the carbon emissions produced by making the water bottled, this explanation is conspicuously absent from Evian’s labels. and is not how reasonable consumers understand the term “carbon neutral”.

Depending on the case, the organizations from which Danone buys “carbon credits” do not currently or actually reduce CO2 emissions, and therefore do not “offset” the CO2 emissions created by the production of Evian water by the company “in any way”.

“Defendant’s manufacture of the product still causes CO2 to be released into the atmosphere, contrary to a reasonable consumer’s understanding of the term ‘carbon neutral’. And, even though carbon neutrality is meant to refer to offset credits Defendant’s advertising is still false and misleading under FTC guidelines, because the organizations used by Defendant also contribute to pollution and climate change, and no “offset” will occur for decades.”

The lawsuit argues that consumers would not have bought Evian water, or paid significantly less for it, had they known Danone’s “carbon neutral” claim was false.

The technical definition of “carbon neutralis “having or causing no net addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere,” the lawsuit explains, noting that “nearly sixty percentof consumers do not understand what the term “ambiguous and misleading” means. Reasonable consumers often confuse carbon neutrality with “zero carbon” or “carbon free,” even though there are no carbon-free products yet, the lawsuit says.

This widespread misunderstanding exists amid creeping climate change, the crux of which is the “greenhouse effect,” or the Earth’s natural warming that occurs when gases in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun that otherwise s would escape into space. The lawsuit points out that greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, from human activities have been by far the most significant driver of climate change since the mid-20th century.

According to the complaint, Danone Waters of America is among the companies that have “deviated” from the more technical definition of “carbon neutral” and instead adopted the definition of “carbon offset”, claiming to offset their CO2 emissions with carbon offset projects. agroforestry, such as the planting of trees, which “theoretically sequester” the same amount of CO2 as the production of the product entity.

Although reasonable consumers “just don’t understand” that is what companies mean when they claim to be “carbon neutral”, the definition of “carbon offset” is still wrong given that many of the Promised carbon savings are hard to measure or never happen, the lawsuit says. As the case may be, corporate use of this term is essentially “greenwashing” intended to capitalize on consumers’ desire and willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly products.

“Carbon neutral companies still release CO2 into the atmosphere. Moreover, even when companies claim carbon neutrality, the carbon offset market is “full of challenges, fuzzy calculations and hard-to-prove claims”. For these reasons, many criticize the economics of carbon offsetting as a form of greenwashing because it allows corporations to “buy complacency, political apathy[,] and self-satisfaction.

The filing alleges that regardless of whether the technical or “carbon offset” definition of “carbon neutral” is used, Danone’s claims that Evian bottled water is a “carbon neutral” product are always “misleading and misleading”. In truth, the product “actually leaves a carbon footprint” since the life cycle of Evian bottled water releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which means the product is not “carbon neutral” as a reasonable consumer would understand the term, according to the lawsuit.

Moreover, even though the defendant claims that its investments in supposedly environmentally friendly projects offset the CO2 produced by the manufacture of Evian bottled water, the transport of the product and the low-recyclability plastic used during the manufacture, nevertheless release relatively large volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere, the complaint relays.

Rather than actually reducing or eliminating its CO2 pollution, Danone instead co-founded the Livelihood Carbon Funds (LCF), the lawsuit says. Depending on the case, companies invest in the LCF, and the fund in turn provides “seed funding” to developers for the implementation and maintenance of large-scale projects over one or two decades. Investing companies, in return, receive “results-based payments” for the risk they bear in the form of carbon credits, the lawsuit reads.

“In other words, the life cycle of the product produces CO2 and the defendant pays money to LCF, which invests this money in agroforestry projects,” the complaint states. “Rather than a monetary return on investment, the defendant receives carbon offset credits that theoretically neutralize the product’s CO2 emissions.”

The lawsuit argues that by presenting Evian’s bottled water as “carbon neutral”, Danone is implying that the CO2 produced during manufacturing has already been offset, or will be offset “in the near future”. However, according to the LFC website, it takes 10 to 20 years for the fund’s projects to be implemented, the case disputes.

“Therefore, contrary to defendant’s express representations, the product is not carbon neutral,” the lawsuit charges.

The lawsuit seeks to cover all people in the United States who have purchased Evian’s natural spring water presented on product labels as “carbon neutral”.

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