CA District Attorneys Reach a $935,000 Settlement With WalMart Over Misleading Greenwashing Claims

Sacramento - The Alameda County District Attorney, along with 22 other District Attorneys, announced today that they have reached a settlement with Walmart and its subsidiaries regarding the sale of illegally labeled products that claim to be degradable. The settlement requires WalMart to pay nearly $1 million, the largest fine issued to-date for the sale of products that make misleading environmental claims. A press release from Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is attached.

In 2011, Californians Against Waste sponsored legislation (SB 567, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier) which prohibited the use of the terms “degradable,” “biodegradable,” and “decomposable,” among others, from being used on any plastic products. Products may only be labeled with the terms "compostable," "home compostable," or "marine degradable" if they meet strict international standards.

Teresa Bui, Senior Analyst for Californians Against Waste, issued the following statement:
"We commend the state's District Attorneys for enforcing California's nation-leading consumer protection laws. This action will keep consumers from being deceived by the false and misleading degradability claims that have unfortunately become all to common on plastic cutlery, takeout food packaging, bags, and other plastic products. 

Consumers are paying more for products that don't perform any different than traditional plastics when they are disposed, and, in fact, are considered a contaminant in both recycling and composting programs. This is especially egregious because the products with misleading claims compete with products that are truly compostable or are made with recycled content, and the prevalence of these deceptive claims undercuts consumer confidence in all sustainable products."