You can view Letitia James’ full press conference above.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB/WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against PepsiCo Inc. over “harming the public and the environment” tied to alleged single-use plastic pollution caused by the company in and around the Buffalo River, the AG’s Office announced Wednesday.
James said that her office “found that single-use plastic produced by PepsiCo contributes significantly to high levels of plastic pollution along the Buffalo River, pollution that is contaminating drinking water and harming wildlife.”
The “historic” lawsuit alleges that PepsiCo, which is headquartered in New York State, causes substantial harm in Buffalo, fails to warn consumers about the risks of its single-use plastic packaging, and mislead consumers and the public about its efforts to prevent plastic pollution.
James seeks to require PepsiCo to end environmentally-threatening practices through the lawsuit and obtain disgorgement, civil penalties and restitution for the damage caused to New York’s environment.
“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 in a release. “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.”
The AG’s Office conducted a survey of waste collected at 13 sites along the Buffalo River and claims that PepsiCo’s single-use plastic packaging was the most common, with 17% of the identifiable plastic trash allegedly produced by PepsiCo. Additionally, from 2013 to 2022, 78% of waste collected by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper volunteers in and around the Buffalo River was plastic, according to the AG’s Office.
In conjunction with the plastic pollution, the AG’s Office also claimed that large quantities of microplastics were found in the Buffalo River, and an analysis allegedly confirmed the presence of microplastics from polymers of the type used by PepsiCo in their plastic bottles and caps.
The lawsuit further alleges that PepsiCo contributes to a public nuisance that injures the Buffalo community, while also misleading the public about meaningful progress toward reducing the use of non-recycled plastic.
“We’re the city of good neighbors,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a release. “We not only strive to be good to each other, but we want to be good to the environment around us. I thank Attorney General James for taking bold actions to protect our environment against threats. I also thank her for her partnership in my administration’s goal to create a greener and climate friendly city.”