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Coca-Cola Is Facing a Lawsuit for This Controversial Reason

A group told a D.C. court that the soda giant is the guiltiest company in the world when it comes this pollution.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

Last week, the Coca-Cola Company came under fire when some consumers pointed out that Coke's new customizable bottle tool was not inclusive of all ethnicities and groups. Now, an organization is serving Coke not only backlash but an actual lawsuit. They allege the beverage behemoth has been falsely portraying a particular image to win the business of modern-minded consumers while allegedly falling short of that promise.

According to the San Francisco Gate, the Earth Island Institute—an environmental activism group in Berkeley, California—filed a lawsuit against the Coca-Cola Company in June with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia's Civil Division.

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In the lawsuit, the institute accused the soda giant of misleading consumers with its use of "false and deceptive marketing representing itself as a sustainable and environmentally friendly company." The institute objects to Coca-Cola's approach to marketing this way because, they say, Coke is actually "one of the largest contributors to plastic pollution in the world."

In fact, the institute says, Coke generates 2.9 million metric tons of plastic each year, which they claim makes Coca-Cola the biggest producer of plastic waste in the world. They add: "Contrary to Coca-Cola's representations, the company has made no significant effort" to transition to an economical system that would lead to less waste from plastic. As a result, they cite the recent data point that suggests many Americans inadvertently are exposed to so much microplastics from plastic waste that we consume the equivalent of one credit-card-size portion of plastic each week.

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Though it's unclear where the lawsuit will land, Coca-Cola's brand culture has been perceived as in-step with more progressive viewpoints lately: Just for example, Coca-Cola vending machines were recently banned in one Southern county over what county commissioners referred to as Coke's "left-wing" values.

But, on whether Coke is guilty of "greenwashing" its image, the Gate states Coca-Cola spokesperson Ann Moore declined to comment on the lawsuit. However, Moore said, the Coca-Cola company upholds its "responsibility to help solve the global plastic waste crisis." To achieve this, she told the Gate, Coke has made a commitment to collect "a bottle or can for every one we produce and recycle it" by 2030.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more
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