Evian Maker Sued Over Carbon Neutral Claims

A California woman who purchased defendant Danone Waters of America’s Evian Natural Spring Water product is suing the company for representing that the bottles the water comes in are carbon neutral, alleging that they are not.

The class action filed last week in the Southern District of New York asserts that Danone’s labeling is more than a marketing gimmick as the company charges a premium for its bottled water, for which the plaintiff and putative nationwide class and California subclass purportedly overpaid.

The suit says that Danone sells a number of water bottles under the “Evian” label while holding itself out to be an environmentally friendly brand. On all its Evian Natural Spring Water bottles, it says the product is “Carbon Neutral.”

However, the plaintiff claims this assertion is misleading if not altogether false because reasonable consumers would believe that its manufacturing “is sustainable and does not leave a carbon footprint.” Yet, the consumer says this notion is false true because the process still causes carbon dioxide (CO2) to be released into the atmosphere. 

The complaint hedges that Danone may defend on various grounds, including that the representation is not false because “carbon neutral” means that the “carbon credits” Danone purchases theoretically offset the carbon emissions manufacturing produces. Secondarily, it says that Danone may claim that the manufacturing of its bottles are “carbon neutral” per the standards of the Carbon Trust, a third-party agency. 

However, the plaintiff asserts that these defenses are unavailing as “these explanations appear nowhere on the Product and reasonable consumers would not understand that to be the meaning of carbon neutral.” The suit concludes that had consumers known the truth about the carbon neutral representation, they would not have purchased the bottled water, or would have paid substantially less for it.

The class action states claims for violation of California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the New York General Business Law, the Massachusetts General Laws, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, and fraud. The plaintiff is represented by Bursor & Fisher P.A.