Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Hefty Recycling Bags Are Not Recyclable
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Reynolds Consumer Products is facing a class action lawsuit over their Hefty brand Recycling Bags, which are not, in fact, recyclable. With the push in recent years to turn away from plastic use in favor of more sustainable alternatives, many consumers have become more recycle-conscious. The official class action complaint alleges that Reynolds Products is fully aware of this trend and decided to market their Hefty trash bags as good for recycling when they are not made of recyclable material to manipulate consumers and profit off the deception.
Hefty Recycling Bags are supposedly “Designed to Handle All Types of Recyclables”.
This in addition to other statements found on the product’s labeling and website make the promise that “Hefty Recycling Bags are Perfect For All Your Recycling Needs”. The lawsuit points out that this type of advertising would lead consumers to reasonably expect the bags themselves to be recyclable, even though they are not. Hefty’s recycling bags are actually made from low-density polyethylene plastic (LDPE or No. 4 plastic).
Unfortunately, municipal recycling facilities (MRFs) in the United States are not equipped to recycle these types of plastics, and the market for recycling these plastics has been greatly reduced as overseas recycling facilities are largely no longer purchasing these materials from the U.S. The lawsuit alleges that these materials “...clog up recycling equipment and reduce the value of otherwise recyclable plastics.” The document even goes so far as to say that a Hefty bag full of otherwise recyclable material may be entirely tossed out at an MRF due to the bag alone.
The plaintiff alleges that Reynolds Products is aware of the problem with their “Recycle Bags” and is intentionally misleading the public.
Product designers and manufacturers are prohibited by both state and federal laws from engaging in false advertising; when a product’s marketing (including labeling, advertisements, and more) does not accurately represent the product or seek to deceive consumers in some way to increase profit, the product could be considered defective and a company may have to remove it from the market, fix the problems, and compensate consumers who were effectively defrauded by the deception. The plaintiff in this lawsuit seeking these remedies in addition to punitive damages and any other damages decided to be just via a jury trial.
Reynolds Products is not the only company to jump on the “greenwashing” trend.
As environmentalism, sustainability, and conservation continue to become increasingly prominent causes and consumers express a desire to support them by making mindful purchases, product manufacturers have been quick to jump on the trend—at least in appearance. The problem is that many manufacturers are focusing their efforts on making their products look environmentally friendly rather than actually being environmentally friendly, a practice that is coming to be referred to as “greenwashing”.
As pictures of serene natural countrysides, green leaves, and words like “natural” and “environmentally-friendly” pop up on all kinds of product labels, it’s important to keep in mind that a product does not have to pass any particular sustainability test to use these images and phrases; however, companies are also not allowed to intentionally mislead consumers.
If you suspect a company is using misleading labels and deceptive marketing practices to defraud consumers, reach out to a class action attorney to discuss your options.