Danone to face French court over plastic pollution “Duty of Vigilance”

Three environmental groups are filing a lawsuit against Danone over its “global plastic pollution”, the non-profit organisation ClientEarth says.

ClientEarth, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste France have filed a lawsuit against the French company in the Paris Tribunal Judiciaire.

The French “Duty of Vigilance” law demands that companies over a certain size assess and prevent the impacts their operations have on the environment and human rights, via a vigilance plan.

Danone owns well-known brands such as Evian, Volvic and Activia.

The groups argue that Danone is not doing enough to reduce its plastic footprint – failing to live up to its duties under the law.

Back in September, the groups had formally put Danone on notice, giving the company the opportunity to change its vigilance plan. ClientEarth says that the company replied to the formal notice letter, but the three NGOs argue the response was insufficient and did not adequately address their demands.

Danone is trudging ahead without a serious plan to deal with plastics.

ClientEarth claims that Danone’s vigilance plan is “completely silent” on plastics.

Commenting on the lawsuit, ClientEarth plastics lawyer Rosa Pritchard, said: “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.

“It continues to rely on single-use plastic packaging in the hopes that recycling will miraculously deal with the flood of plastics it puts on the market. But recycling is a limited solution as only 9% of plastics ever made have been recycled. It’s unrealistic for food giants like Danone to pretend recycling is the silver bullet.

“It’s 2023 and high time Danone started implementing proper solutions such as refill and reuse beyond a few pilots to give consumers real access to a sustainable model. It needs to deplastify now.”

ClientEarth says the next steps in the court case will be determined by a judge in an initial hearing in the next couple of months.

We are very surprised by this accusation, which we strongly refute.

In a statement to The Guardian, Danone rejected the accusations from the NGOs. “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, for example, a decrease of 12% at global level (60,000 tons in absolute) between 2018 and 2021.”

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