French multi-national food and drink brand Danone is facing a lawsuit over global plastic pollution.

The lawsuit has been filed with France’s high court by three environmental groups – Surfrider Foundation, Zero Waste France and ClientEarth – which argue that Danone should be doing more to reduce its plastic footprint and is failing to fulfil its duties under French law.

The groups say that Danone should map the environmental, health, climate and human rights impacts of its plastics use from production to end-of-life. They are also calling for a comprehensive assessment of its plastic footprint up and down the supply chain. Further, a ‘deplastification plan’ should be drafted, with dated objectives to action.

It’s 2023 and high time Danone started implementing proper solutions

Rosa Pritchard, a plastics lawyer for ClientEarth, says she would have expected to see a refill system from Danone by now. “Danone is trudging ahead without a serious plan to deal with plastics, despite clear concern from climate and health experts and consumers, and a legal obligation to face up to the issue.

“It continues to rely on single-use plastic packaging in the hopes that recycling will miraculously deal with the flood of plastics it puts on the market. But recycling is a limited solution as only 9% of plastics ever made have been recycled. It’s unrealistic for food giants like Danone to pretend recycling is the silver bullet.

“It’s 2023 and high time Danone started implementing proper solutions such as refill and reuse beyond a few pilots to give consumers real access to a sustainable model. It needs to deplastify now. The momentum around plastics litigation has been building fast – and it’s only the beginning. Companies across the plastics value chain, from fossil fuel companies to consumer goods giants and waste management companies, should be on high alert.”

Putting an end to plastic pollution cannot come from one single company

A representative for Danone – which claims to have cut plastic use globally by 12% between 2018-2021 – responds: “We are very surprised by this accusation, which we strongly refute. Danone has long been recognized as a pioneer in environmental risk management and we remain fully committed and determined to act responsibly.

“We are implementing a comprehensive framework of actions aimed at reducing the use of plastic, developing reuse, strengthening collection and recycling schemes, and developing alternative materials. We have already made significant progress on each of these fronts, particularly on plastic reduction.

“Putting an end to plastic pollution cannot come from one single company and requires the mobilization of all players – public and industrial – while respecting the imperatives of food safety. This is why we support the adoption, under the aegis of the United Nations, of a legally binding international treaty.”