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Plastic waste lawsuits expected to explode after historic deal| Plastics

Plastic waste lawsuits expected to explode after historic deal| Plastics

According to legal experts, a series lawsuits against plastic producers is expected following an historic international agreement on waste.

Last week, world leaders reached an agreement to develop a legally binding treaty covering the entire lifecycle for plastics. It would be effective over the next two year. The UN Environment Programme’s head described the move as the most important multilateral agreement on environmental issues since 2015’s Paris Agreement.

The new treaty could, just as its climate counterpart, be an important tool for holding governments and companies responsible for their environmental impacts.

A precedent could be set in the Philippines by a case that is imminent. A coalition of environmental groups and individuals led by Oceana Philippines, a marine conservation group, filed a petition last year accusing the Philippine government with failing to address the unabated production, disposal, and use of plastics over the past 20 years.

The group claims that a 2001 law that required the country’s public waste agency to update, review and enforce a list containing products that are not environmentally-friendly has never been implemented. It claims that this has led to the unabated release of millions of tons plastic waste into every corner of the Philippine archipelago.

Petitioners include people who are less likely to catch fish, have difficulty conceiving, or are affected by worsening floods caused by plastic pollution. They claim that the government’s inaction is violating their constitutional right for a healthy environment.

The case was accepted by the Philippine supreme Court, and will go to trial later in the month.

Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law in the United States, stated that it was impossible to doubt that there would be more lawsuits against plastics in the future, pointing out the small but growing body of litigation in North America.

After being challenged on claims regarding the recycling of its disposable coffee pods’, KeurigGreen Mountain, a coffee company, reached settlements in Canada and the US with a consumer and regulator. The company was forced to change the language on its packaging after it was challenged over claims about the recyclability of its disposable coffee pods.

Earth Island Institute, an environmental group based in California, has filed three separate lawsuits against plastics producers. In 2020, it began suing Nestl, Coca-Cola and Pepsi for creating a plastic pollution problem. Earth Island Institute filed another lawsuit against Coke and BlueTriton Brands, formerly Nestl Waters North America. This was based on the claim that the companies falsely claimed they were environmentally friendly despite being big plastic polluters. The companies claim that they are all taking steps to reduce plastic use, improve collection, and to seek policy resolutions with legislators.

The cases are still pending. However, at least two of the three cases will be heard in state court, which tend to be more supportive than federal courts toward environmental litigants.

Rosa Pritchard, a plastics lawyer at ClientEarth, says that plastics-related litigation has been on the rise. Plastics production big oil plan A is increasingly in the spotlight because of its contribution to climate changes.

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ClientEarth is taking legal action against Ineos, a petrochemicals company, for destroying a massive plastics plant in Belgium.

Pritchard stated that the Paris Agreement had been an important tool to hold governments accountable and corporations accountable for their contributions to climate change. This could be achieved by a robust plastics treaty, as well as further climate laws and waste legislations being introduced throughout Europe, Pritchard said.

ClientEarth will not only use the law to stop plastic production but also focus its efforts on industry greenwashing. It Ahold Delhaize (one of the largest grocery retail groups in the world) was already reported to the Dutch financial regulator. This was due to the fact that the company failed to disclose key information regarding its use of plastics and to report plastic-related risks to its investors. According to the company, it reports annually on its progress in reducing plastic use. It is focusing on areas where it can make a direct impact such as improving packaging, recycling plastic waste and phasing out single-use.

Muffett stated that plastics have impacted communities and states. They will be learning from the climate litigation experience and looking at the roles played by the industries and actors involved in this crisis. There are many people affected in very different ways. That means there are many potential avenues for litigation.

Contrary to misinformation campaigns, this is exactly what we are seeing. Muffett spoke out against the fossil fuel industry’s support for climate crisis. Mounting evidencePlastic producers knew for a very long period that it was accumulating in the environment, and they had tried to shift blame to consumers. It’s just a matter when the additional dots are connected.

Muffett stated that the public and political debates have changed significantly since Muffett’s commitment to a legally binding plastics agreement. It means that the era that allows for unlimited plastic production, use, and disposal will end soon. If they don’t, there will be new litigation risks.

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