Plastics Litigation Tracker

Guarini Center on Energy, Environment, and Land Use Law State Energy and Environmental Impact Center

This track­er was launched July 15, 2022. It was last updat­ed May 24, 2024.

The Plastics Litigation Tracker tracks cases addressing plastics across federal and state courts. It includes resolved cases and cases that are still pending. The cases can be filtered by category, plaintiff, defendant, and jurisdiction. They are listed in reverse chronological order based on the date of the latest update in each case. Where there is no decision, the cases will appear in alphabetical order. Descriptions of the categories can be found here. This blog post gives an introduction to the project and analyzes trends evident from the cases in the tracker at the time it was launched.

The tracker will be updated as cases are resolved and new cases are filed. To submit cases, updates, or corrections to this database, please email [email protected].

For any inquiries, please contact [email protected].

59 results match your search.   Download as CSV

Coal. to Protect Puget Sound Habitat v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 2:21-cv-01685 (W.D. Wash. 2021)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
NGO
Government
10/24/2023
Federal
Clean Water Act; National Environment Policy Act

Allegations: Plaintiffs, an environmental group, filed an action against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and multiple U.S. Army Corps employees. Defendants had authorized commercial aquaculture operations in tidelands throughout Washington, including Puget Sound and Willapa Bay, under the 2021 issuance of Nationwide Permit 48 (2021 NWP 48) and through Letters of Permission (LOPs) under the Rivers and Harbors Act. Plaintiffs argued that the permits must be invalidated and that Defendants' actions violated the Clean Water Act (CWA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), because the approved practice could result in a complex variety of plastics (ranging from large plastic fishing gear, to microplastics, and more) being introduced into the waterways (among other, non plastics-related claims). Filed 12/20/21. See the complaint here.

Status: Pending. On April 26, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint, followed by a second amended complaint, on June 10. On July 25, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint's fifth claim, which had sought to vacate and enjoin en masse the use of LOPs to authorize aquaculture activities in Washington. Defendants argued that Plaintiffs had failed to state a claim under the APA because the statute only allowed for challenges to specific final agency actions, rather than broad programmatic challenges. Defendants also argued that Plaintiffs' claim should be dismissed because the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. On February 13, 2023, the court granted Defendants' motion and dismissed Plaintiff's fifth claim without prejudice. On June 28, Defendants filed an unopposed motion for voluntary remand. There, Defendants stated that they intended to propose revoking the applicability of the 2021 NWP 48 in Washington State, and accordingly, were also seeking the associated dismissal of Plaintiffs' remaining claims (all concerning 2021 NWP 48) without prejudice. Defendants also noted that Plaintiffs had informed them that Plaintiffs intended to move to further amend their complaint to add a new claim regarding the LOPs. On October 5, the court granted Defendants' motion. On October 24, Plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint, where they argued that activities performed under the LOPs issued by Defendants have "significant individual or cumulative impacts on the environmental values," but do not discuss plastic pollution. 2021 NWP 48 will not expire until March 14, 2026, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet revoked the applicability of this NWP in Washington. Plaintiffs filed a fourth amended complaint on February 1.

The Last Beach Cleanup v. Gelson's Markets, No. 22STCV18216 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
NGO
Industry
10/18/2023
California
Plastic Ban; State Codes

Allegations: Plaintiff, an environmental non-profit, alleges that Gelson's Markets continues to sell non-recyclable plastic grocery bags to consumers despite a California law requiring that all plastic reusable grocery bags be recyclable. Plaintiff seeks an order enjoining Defendant's unlawful conduct. Filed 6/3/2022. See the complaint here.

Status: Settlement pending. On October 18, 2023, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a settlement agreement, whereby Defendant agreed to stop purchasing plastic bags for resale by November 1, 2023, and to stop selling or distributing plastic bags in California by January 31, 2024. Defendant also agreed to remove its in-store drop-off bins for plastic recycling, by December 31, 2023. A settlement hearing is scheduled for June 12, 2024.

The Last Beach Cleanup v. Stater Brothers, No. 22STCV18252 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
NGO
Industry
8/15/2023
California
Plastic Ban; State Codes

Allegations: Plaintiff, a non-profit dedicated to ending plastic pollution, alleges that Defendant continues to sell non-recyclable plastic bags despite the California law banning the sale of non-recyclable plastic bags. Plaintiff seeks an order enjoining Defendant's unlawful conduct. Filed 6/3/2022. See the complaint here.

Status: Pending. On April 3, 2023, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, which was granted on June 22, 2023. The second amended complaint was filed on June 28, 2023, which listed Slater Bros. Markets, a plastic company, a plastic waste company, and a chemical testing company, as defendants. Plaintiff also included the California Department of Resources, Recycling, and Recovery, as a real party in interest. On July 31, 2023, the California Department of Recycling and Recovery filed a general denial. On March 15, 2024, Plaintiff filed a third amended complaint. A status conference has been set for August 8, 2024.

Bargetto v. Walgreen Co., No. 3:22-cv-02639 (N.D. Cal. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Class Action
Industry
8/10/2023
Federal
Plastic Ban; State Codes; False Advertising; Unfair Competition

Allegations: Plaintiff represents a class alleging that Defendant, Walgreen Co., continues to sell non-recyclable plastic bags despite California law SB 270 banning the sale of non-recyclable plastic bags. Plaintiff seeks an order enjoining Defendant's unlawful conduct, as well as damages to compensate them for the deceptive practices. Filed 4/29/2022. See the complaint here.

Status: Pending. On October 7, 2022, Walgreen Co. filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. On December 19, 2022, the court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss as to Plaintiff's cause of action concerning Defendant's alleged violation of SB 270, but denied the the motion on all other grounds. On August 10, 2023, the court issued a scheduling order, which set deadlines for filings and dates for litigation. According to the order, Plaintiff's motion for class certification was due by February 13, 2024. The court also ordered trial to begin on January 17, 2025. On March 12, Plaintiff filed a motion for class certification. Defendant filed its opposition and response on April 9. A class certification hearing will take place on June 11.

State of Minnesota, by its Attorney General, Keith Ellison, v. Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc., Reynolds Consumer Products, LLC, & Walmart Inc., (2023)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Government
Industry
6/6/2023

Allegations: Plaintiff, the State of Minnesota, led by its AG Keith Ellison, brought this case against Defendants Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc. and Walmart Inc., seeking injunctive relief for selling Hefty recycling trash bags that are advertised as recyclable, when they bags are made from low-density polyethylene plastic, which cannot be processed at recycling facilities. AG Ellison explains that when recyclable items are placed in these bags and brought to waste municipalities in the State, the bag and its contents are deemed unrecyclable. AG Ellison argues that Defendant's marketing of the bags defrauded and deceived consumers, because all recyclable items that consumers place into Reynolds and Walmart's "recycling" bags end up at a landfill and are not recycled, contrary to customers' intentions. AG Ellison also argues that Defendants knowingly misled consumers, explaining that Reynolds recently changed the language on their products, instructing consumers to contact their local waste municipalities and ask if they recycle the bags -- even though no facility in Minnesota accepts them. Filed on 06/06/2023. See the complaint here.

Status: This case is pending. A settlement conference is scheduled for August 16, 2024, with trial set for September 16, if no settlement is reached.

Center for Environmental Health v. Inhance Technologies USA, 1:22-cv-03819-JEB(2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Industry
Industry
3/6/2023

Allegations: Plaintiff, a health non-profit, is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent and restrain Defendant’s from continuing to violate the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (“LCPFAC”) chemical substances. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant failed to submit a significant new use notice (SNUN) and for manufacturing the chemical without completing the requisite. Filed 12/27/22. See the complaint here.

Outcome: Dismissed without prejudice. On January 18, 2023, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff's citizen suit is barred by the Toxic Substances Control Act's "diligent prosecution bar" because the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is already prosecuting a case against Defendant in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Defendant explained that it had informed Plaintiff of this before Plaintiff filed its complaint. On April 6, 2023, the court granted Defendant's motion and dismissed the case without prejudice. The court explained that Plaintiff's proper recourse is to seek intervention in the U.S. action.

Smith v. Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., No. 4:18-cv-06690 (N.D. Cal. 2020)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Class Action
Industry
2/28/2023
California
False Advertising; Unfair Competition; Consumer Protection

Allegations: Plaintiff, Kathleen Smith, brought a class action suit against Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., seeking injunctive relief. Plaintiff sought to enjoin Defendant's misleading advertising practices and other unlawful conduct, and also sought an award of damages. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated California's legislatively declared policy against misrepresenting the characteristics of goods and services. Plaintiff also argued that Defendant had violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and caused damages through reliance on Defendants false representations by falsely labeling their products (single serve coffee pods) as recyclable. Filed 11/02/18. See the complaint here.

Outcome: Closed. The court granted Plaintiff's motion for class certification. On February 24, 2022, the parties filed a settlement agreement, which stated that Keurig cannot label, market, advertise, or otherwise represent the cups as recyclable without "clearly and prominently including a revised qualifying statement." Other terms included requirements for the qualifying language, changes to Keurig's website and other advertising, and a $10 million proposed settlement. As of February 27, 2023, the court issued an order granting final approval of the class action settlement and granting Plaintiff's motion for attorneys fees, costs, and incentive awards.

San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper v. Formosa Plastics Corp, No. 6:17-cv-00047 (S.D. Tex. 2017)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
NGO
Industry
1/26/2023
Federal
Clean Water Act

Allegations: Plaintiff, a citizens group, brought this case against Formosa Plastics Corp., seeking a declaratory judgment, as well as monetary and injunctive relief. Plaintiff alleged that plastic pellets were being illegally dumped into Texas waterways without a permit, in violation of permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Filed on 7/31/2017. See the complaint here.

Outcome: Closed. The court affirmed Plaintiff's claim for declaratory judgment and issued monetary and injunctive relief against Defendant, with a focus on future permit violations. The court also awarded attorney's fees and sanctions for past violations. The parties agreed to a $50 million settlement over the CWA claims. Following the settlement agreement, the parties disagreed over whether Formosa's payment and reporting obligations are triggered only on a "new discharge" of plastics or on "visual detection" of plastics irrespective of when those plastics had actually been discharged from Formosa properties. On March 21, 2022, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division, rejected Formosa’s request to pause the cleanup of waterways, and ruled that the consent decree that was signed mandates that decontamination must continue until decontamination efforts do more harm than good. On September 8, 2022, Plaitiff's motion to seal Defendant's trial exhibits was granted. As of January 26, 2023, the case has been closed.

Connecticut v. Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc., No. HHD-CV-22-6156769 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Government
Industry
1/17/2023
Connecticut
False Advertising; Unfair Competition; Consumer Protection

Allegations: Plaintiff, the Connecticut Attorney General, brought an action against Reynolds Consumer Products, Inc., alleging that the company falsely and deceptively marketed Hefty trash bags as “recyclable” despite knowing they could not be recycled in Connecticut recycling facilities, in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The AG's office seeks injunctive relief, equitable relief, and civil penalties to redress injuries to Connecticut consumers from the defendant's business practices and product representations. Filed 6/14/2022. See the complaint here.

Status: Pending. On January 5, 2023, the Attorney General's Office filed a complex litigation application, which the court granted on January 17, 2023. The parties have been ordered to attend a trial management conference on June 18, 2024. Trial is scheduled to begin on July 2, 2024.

Earth Island Inst. v. BlueTriton Brands, No. 2021-CA-003027 (D.C. Super. Ct. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
NGO
Industry
9/28/2022
Federal
False Advertising; Consumer Protection

Allegations: Plaintiff, an environmental organization, brought an action against BlueTriton Brands (formerly known as Nestlé Waters North America), seeking injunctive relief against Defendant's trade practices and declarative relief in the form of an order holding that Defendant's conduct is unlawful. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, arguing that Defendant's marketing is false and deceptive because the company portrays itself as "sustainable" and committed to reducing plastic pollution through its recycling targets, while falling short of those targets and continuing its environmentally harmful practices. Filed 8/27/21. See the complaint here.

Outcome: Closed. Defendant removed the case from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Plaintiff filed a motion for remand. On January 27, 2022, the District Court granted Plaintiff's motion and denied its request for fees and costs. On June 7, 2022, the Superior Court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss. On September 28, 2022, a motion was filed for the case to remain open, which was granted on September 30, 2022. A remote status hearing is scheduled for April 26, but on March 27, the parties filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal.