Greenpeace Files Third Amended Complaint in Plastics Battle with Walmart

Greenpeace filed a third amended complaint in federal court last week that alleges Walmart deceives customers about the recyclability of its packaging. 

The complaint, initially filed in California’s Alameda County Superior Court in December 2020, claims Walmart markets products sold under its private label as recyclable when they are in fact not. The lawsuit focuses on packaging made from plastics 3-7, plastic shrink sleeves or unidentified plastic, which Greenpeace argues are rarely, if ever, recycled. 

Plastics 3-7 are considered to be low-value plastics, and as such, there is no end market to reuse the material. For example, less than five percent of polypropylene, known as plastic 5, is reprocessed into recyclable material, according to the lawsuit. 

“Ultimately, the majority of plastics #3-7 in California and elsewhere in the United States are sent to landfills,” the complaint states. 

In the past decade, humans have produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic globally, and only nine percent of that has been recycled. A third of single-use plastic ends up in the natural environment, accounting for 100 million metric tons of plastic pollution in 2016, according to court documents.  

The complaint, which was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in January 2021, claims violations of Section 17200 of the California Business & Professions Code based on unlawful acts and unfair acts and practices, and seeks injunctive relief. Greenpeace filed its third amended complaint in response to Walmart’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that it lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution. 

Greenpeace is represented by Lexington Law Group

Walmart is represented by Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP