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 January 29, 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].

53 results match your search.   Download as CSV

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 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 complaint here.

Status: 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.

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 complaint here.

Status: Pending. 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 January 5, 2024, and a remote mediation session is scheduled for April 3, 2024.

Curtis v. 7-Eleven, Inc., No. 21-civ-6079 (N.D. Ill. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Class Action
Industry
9/13/2022
Illinois
False Advertising; Unfair Competition; Consumer Protection

Allegations: Plaintiff, a consumer who bought foam cups, foam plates, party cups, and freezer bags that were marked “recyclable” from a 7-Eleven store in Chicago, Illinois, brought this case on behalf of herself and a purported consumer class against Defendant, 7-Eleven. The claims included (1) deceptive practices under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, (2) breach of express warranty, and (3) unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleged that the “recyclable” label on the products was deceptive because the purchased products were made of plastic that was very unlikely to be accepted and reused by local recycling facilities. In addition, the foam plates and freezer bags lacked recycling designations, known as Resin Identification Codes (RICs), which provide recycling facilities the necessary information to sort and recycle the products. Plaintiff alleged that the absence of the RICs was deceptive to consumers. Filed 09/13/22.

Status: Pending. In a September 13, 2022 order, the District Court denied in part and granted in part 7-Eleven’s motion to dismiss, filed on December 10, 2021. First, the court found that Plaintiff had sufficiently alleged an injury-in-fact for the purpose of standing in federal court as both an individual and as a class representative, on behalf of consumers who suffered “substantially similar” injuries after relying on similar labels on 7-Eleven products. However, the court found that Plaintiff had no standing to seek an injunction against 7-Eleven, stating that there was a low probability she would be similarly misled in the future. The court held that Plaintiff had correctly raised a "deceptive practices" claim as to the lack of RICs on the products, but not as to the “recyclable” labels. The court defined “recyclable” as “capable of being recycled," and not "will be recycled," and determined that 7-Eleven had never represented anything about the likelihood of their products being recycled. Therefore, the court held that Plaintiff’s “unrealistic” expectations were not sufficient to support her claim. In contrast, the court held that without the RICs, plastic products such as foam plates and freezer bags cannot be separated or recycled, and so Plaintiff had sufficiently stated a "deceptive practices" claim. The court also permitted Plaintiff’s breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment claims to go forward to the extent they related to the lack of RIC designations. On December 2, 2022, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint and demand for a jury trial. The parties are currently engaged in pre-trial motion practice. A trial date has not yet been set.

Duchimaza v. Niagara Bottling Co., No. 1:21-civ-06434 (S.D.N.Y. 2022)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Class Action
Industry
8/16/2022
New York
False Advertising; Unfair Competition; Consumer Protection

Allegations: Plaintiff, a consumer who purchased water bottles labeled "100% recyclable" (which were bottled by Niagara and sold by Costco), asserted several claims on behalf of a proposed class of New York consumers. The claims included (1) deceptive and unfair trade practices under NY General Business Law ("GBL") § 349, (2) false advertising under GBL § 350, (3) common law fraud, (4) breach of express warranty, and (5) unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleged that Niagara's representation that the bottles were "100% Recyclable" was false and misleading to consumers, because not all components of the bottles were made of recyclable material, and also because the low recycling capacity in New York made other components of the bottles effectively non-recyclable. Filed 07/28/21. See complaint here.

Status: Dismissed; motion to replead not filed. On October 1, 2021 , Defendant filed a motion to dismiss. On August 5, 2022, the District Court grantedthe motion in full, dismissing all but one of Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. The court held that Plaintiff had confused recycling access with whether a product was actually recycled, and, therefore, determined that Plaintiff had failed to show that Niagara had not complied with the FTC guidance--a necessary component of both GBL claims. The court also concluded that Plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to show fraudulent intent, and also failed to meaningfully distinguish its unjust enrichment claim from its other claims. Plaintiff's breach of express warranty claim was dismissed without prejudice, allowing Plaintiff to replead this claim. Plaintiff had until August 12, 2022 to move for leave to replead the breach of express warranty claim, but never did. The case was dismissed on August 16, 2022.

Downing v. Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., No. 21-08023 (1st Cir. 2021)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Class Action
Industry
6/25/2022
Massachusetts
False Advertising; Unfair Competition; Consumer Protection

Allegations: Plaintiff, a customer who purchased single-serve plastic coffee pods made by Defendant, asserted a consumer claim under Mass. Gen. Laws c. 93A § 9 (“Chapter 93A”) on behalf of a proposed national class of consumers. Plaintiff alleged that the pods were not recyclable as defined under applicable Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) guidance, despite them being labeled as "recyclable." Filed 06/25/21. See complaint here.

Status: Closed. On August 3, 2022, this action was stayed in light of the Status Report 46, which advised the court that the Northern District of California had granted preliminary approval of a class action settlement in the related matter Smith v. Keurig Green Mountain Inc. No. 18-cv-06690 (N.D. Cal.) and had set a schedule, including a final fairness hearing set for December 8, 2022, for final approval. The parties were ordered to file a further status report within one week of any change to that schedule, or if the schedule was not changed, by December 15, 2022. Previously, on June 25, 2022, Plaintiff appealed the district court’s decision to strike the nationwide class allegations. The district court concluded that no such nationwide class could be certified under Rule 23 because Chapter 93A’s remedies do not extend to consumers who purchased the pods outside of Massachusetts. This case is closed. See the appeal, here.

Greenpeace v. Walmart, Inc., No. 3:21-cv-00754 (N.D. Cal. 2021)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
NGO
Industry
6/3/2022
California
Environmental Protection; False Advertising; Unfair Competition

Allegations: Plaintiff, an environmental organization, brought an action against Walmart, Inc., seeking injunctive relief. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant's labeling of products as recyclable was material, untrue, and misleading, thus constituting unfair competition under California law and Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and also, that Defendant violated the California Environmental Marketing Claims Act. Filed 3/29/2021. See complaint here.

Outcome: Closed. On June 3, 2022, the parties filed a joint stipulation for dismissal. The court had previously granted Defendant's motion to dismiss with leave to amend, on the ground that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege, for purposes of Article III standing, an injury based on future diversions of resources.

City of Philadelphia et al. v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 42 MD 2021 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2021)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Government
Government
4/1/2022
Pennsylvania
Plastic Ban

Allegations: Plaintiffs, the City of Philadelphia and other local governments, brought an action against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania seeking injunctive and declarative relief, alleging that a section of the State's annual Fiscal Code was unconstitutional. Plaintiff's also sought to enjoin the State from enforcing the contested section of the act. Plaintiffs alleged that the section, which prohibits a local governmental body or agency to enact or enforce a law, rule, regulation or ordinance imposing a tax on or relation to the use, disposition, sale, prohibition or restriction of single-use plastics, violated the State constitution. Filed 3/3/2021. See complaint here.

Outcome: Closed. On April 1, 2022, Philadelphia's plastic bag ban went into effect. This case was discontinued as a result.

Perri v. Croskrey, No. 1:21-cv-01423 (D. Del. 2021)

Plaintiff
Defendant
Latest Case Update
Jurisdiction
Category
Class Action
Industry
3/25/2022
Federal
Securities

Allegations: Plaintiff, Ryan Perri, brought a stockholder derivative action against Defendants, comprised of members of the Board of Directors and upper management for Danimer Scientific, Inc., with Danimer Scientific serving as the nominal defendant. Plaintiff sought declarative relief and damages. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act of 1934, breached their fiduciary duties, unjustly enriched themselves, and wasted corporate assets by making false or misleading statements that failed to disclose that Danimer had deficient internal controls; misrepresented its operation size and regulatory compliance; and overstated and mischaracterized the biodegradability of the company's plastic products. Defendants had claimed publically and in various U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings that its plastic products, made from polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), were "100%" and "fully" biodegradable. Plaintiff explained how, after scientific reports were published explaining that the PHA plastics failed to biodegrade in line with Defendant's claims, and in some instances, even released methane, a greenhouse gas, during their breakdown process, Danimer's stock plummeted. Filed 10/6/2021. See complaint here.

Status: Stayed. On October 15, Plaintiff and Defendants filed a stipulation and proposed order, acknowledging that Plaintiff's complaint "involves overlapping parties and factual allegations with related federal securities class actions filed in May 2021"--including a securities class action brought by Plaintiff Darryl Keith Rosencrants in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the same Danimer Defendants. The parties agreed, subject to the court's approval, to temporarily stay the proceedings until the resolution of Defendants' motions to dismiss Rosencrants. On October 20, the court issued an order staying the case. On March 25, 2022, the case was administratively closed. On March 7, 2023, the case was consolidated with a separate verified stockholder derivative case, filed by Samuel Berezin. Berezin contained overlapping parties and factual allegations with Perri and Rosencrants. The consolidated action remains stayed on the same terms that Perri was stayed.