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June 7, 2022

Californian retailers sued for selling unrecyclable plastic bags

The two retailers allegedly mislead customers by selling products advertised or labelled as recyclable.

US-based environmental advocacy group The Last Beach Cleanup (LBC) has sought legal action against two major retailers in California for illegally selling plastic shopping bags.

LBC asserted that Gelson’s Markets and Stater Bros Markets have been selling bags that are not ‘recyclable in the state’ as required by California’s SB270 law, which was ratified by California voters as Proposition 67 in 2016.

The lawsuit also alleges that these retailers sell bags featuring symbols that mislead consumers into placing them in kerbside recycling programmes that cannot process the material.

In a statement, LBC said: “The Last Beach Cleanup’s legal action seeks to protect legitimate recycling efforts, save taxpayer funds spent on cleanups, and protect the global environment from plastic waste and pollution caused by plastic shopping bags and films.

“Consumers across the US are deceived by instructions to ‘Return the plastic bag to a participating store for recycling’ or ‘Store Dropoff’ and sent on a wild goose chase with no benefit.”

Californian law prohibits stores from selling or distributing reusable grocery bags made from plastic film unless they are recyclable in the state.

Companies that advertise or label their products as recyclable must also support the validity of the recyclable representation and provide this to the public upon request.

The LBC lawsuits come after an individual consumer filed a Class Action Lawsuit against Walgreens on 29 April this year for selling plastic shopping bags in California.

In October last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed several bills intended to combat plastic waste in the state and promote a more sustainable and renewable economy.

The bills included Senate Bill 343, which prohibits the use of misleading recycling labels and introduces other measures to reduce single-use waste pollution and support recycling goals.

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