France: Danone sued in court over its plastic use

Danone, the French multinational food company behind the Evian and Volvic bottled waters, is being taken to court by three environmental groups who accuse it of falling short to reduce its plastic footprint.

The environmental groups Surfrider, ClientEarth, and Zero Waste France, said they wanted the company to accept accountability for its plastic use.

The three organizations claim that “by not mentioning plastic in its plan, or explaining how the company intends to mitigate the risks related to plastic, […] Danone is not complying with its legal obligations.”

The 2017 “Duty of Vigilance” law mandates the monitoring of human rights and environmental concerns in large French companies and their supply chains. NGOs are increasingly using this law in climate lawsuits against companies.

“We want Danone to re-publish its compulsory duty of care report and specifically account for its plastic use, including a concrete strategy to reduce it,” Antidia Citores, the spokesperson for Surfrider Foundation Europe, told Reuters.

“Danone is trudging ahead without a serious plan to deal with plastics, despite clear concern from climate and health experts and consumers, and a legal obligation to face up to the issue,” Rosa Pritchard, a lawyer for ClientEarth was cited by The Guardian.

In a statement to Agriland, Danone said: “We are very surprised by this accusation, which we strongly refute. Danone has long been recognised as a pioneer in environmental risk management, and we remain fully committed and determined to act responsibly.

“We are implementing a comprehensive framework of actions aimed at reducing the use of plastic, developing reuse, strengthening collection and recycling schemes, and developing alternative materials.

“We have already made significant progress on each of these fronts, particularly on plastic reduction, with -12% at global level (-60,000t) between 2018 and 2021”.

According the company, an end to plastic pollution could not come from one single company. “This is why we support the adoption, under the aegis of the United Nations, of a legally binding international treaty”.

Alongside The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Nestlé, Danone was named as one of the world’s top 10 plastic polluters, according to a recent brand audit by the Break Free From Plastic movement.

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