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New York sues PepsiCo, blames company for excessive plastic pollution: ‘Threat to human health’
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New York sues PepsiCo, blames company for excessive plastic pollution: ‘Threat to human health’

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against PepsiCo , blaming the food and beverage company for the excessive plastic pollution found in the state’s waterways.

The lawsuit, filed in Erie County, claimed that PepsiCo’s plastic products make up a disproportionate amount of plastic pollution found in the Buffalo River and along its shorelines.

The complaint , obtained by Courthouse News Service , referenced a 2022 survey that collected waste at 13 sites along the river. Of the 2,621 pieces of waste collected that contained identifiable brands, 73% were plastic, the suit stated. PepsiCo’s products accounted for 17.1% of the waste products, McDonald’s Corporation 5.7%, the Hershey Company 4.2%, and the Coca-Cola Company 3.8%.

“PepsiCo’s plastic packaging far exceeded any other source of identifiable plastic waste, and it was three times more abundant than the next contributor (McDonald’s),” the lawsuit stated.

The company's single-use plastic products are thwarting decades of efforts to clean up the Buffalo River, it claimed. The plastics and microplastics found in the river present “a threat to human health,” the suit added.

The complaint further alleged that microplastics have been found in the City of Buffalo’s drinking water supply, water collected from the Niagara River, which flows downstream from the Buffalo River.

The state’s lawsuit, among the first in the country to go after a large plastic producer, seeks monetary relief. It also aims to ban PepsiCo from selling single-use plastics unless its packaging includes a warning detailing environmental and health hazards.

“No company is too big to ensure that their products do not damage our environment and public health. All New Yorkers have a basic right to clean water, yet PepsiCo’s irresponsible packaging and marketing endanger Buffalo’s water supply, environment, and public health,” James said . “No one should have to worry about plastics in their drinking water, plastic garbage littering their scenic riverfront, or plastic pollution harming wildlife. I will never hesitate to take on major corporations that put the health and safety of everyday New Yorkers and our planet at risk.”

A PepsiCo spokesperson told Courthouse News that the company is “serious about plastic reduction and effective recycling.”

“PepsiCo has been working in New York to address the needs of communities, including advocating for New York bottle bill improvements and extended producer responsibility bills,” the spokesperson stated. “We have worked effectively with a variety of communities across the country and remain committed to doing so.”

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