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Danone sued by NGOs for plastic pollution

NGOs want a judge to force French yogurt and water bottler multinational Danone to break its addiction to plastic, which has often failed in nature. ClientEarth, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste France are demanding that Danone be condemned to plan a “deplasticization trajectory” or quit plastic, finding its efforts insufficient. “We know very well that this cannot be done overnight, but it must start today,” AFP Antidia Citores, spokeswoman for the NGO coalition, told AFP. Organizations implement this procedure based on France’s 2017 “duty of vigilance” law, which obliges large French companies to ensure respect for fundamental human rights and the environment to their suppliers worldwide. This “duty of vigilance” is increasingly used by unions to sue large groups and publicize controversial activities: TotalEnergies for an oil project in Uganda and Tanzania, EDF for a wind project in Mexico, Suez for water management in a city in Chile in 2021, BNP Paribas, due to the financing of new oil and gas projects… Danone was first launched at the end of September by a coalition of NGOs, as well as eight behemoths of the food industry and distribution (Auchan, Carrefour, Lactalis, etc.) The coalition called only Danone, this procedure the next stage leads to hearings before the Paris court. “Dialogue with the others (companies) is still ongoing. It is not excluded that they are also responsible before French justice,” Sebastien Mabil, one of the lawyers of the NGO, told AFP. Danone is dropping the ball, NGOs say, especially since the group doesn’t mention plastic pollution in its “vigilance plan,” ranking it among the world’s ten biggest “plastic polluters” after Coca Cola, Pepsico or Nestlé. “Be free from plastic” movement. In response to AFP, Danone said it was “very surprised” by the approach. In particular, the company, which produces eponymous yogurts and bottled water (Volvic, Evian or Aqua in Indonesia), considers itself to be “a long-standing leader in environmental risk management.” The company claims that it will “implement a comprehensive framework of activities aimed at reducing the use of plastic, promoting reuse, contributing to the strengthening of collection and recycling channels to keep plastic out of nature, and developing research on alternative materials. – Eliminate plastic at source – According to its latest annual report, Danone (100,000 employees, annual turnover of more than 24 billion euros) used approximately 751,000 tons of plastic in 2021. The group aims to design packaging that is “100% recyclable, reusable or compostable” by 2025. NGOs accuse it of betting on packaging recycling in favor of returnable packaging instead of tackling the problem at source by reducing plastic use. eg bottles. “Recycled plastic does not prevent plastics from being left at the bottom of the ocean,” concludes Ms. Citores. He also regrets that the group buys vegetables grown under plastic greenhouses, covered in polypropylene – for baby Bledina’s food, for example. More broadly, activists are demanding an end to the “extremely serious environmental damage” caused by its activities, Me Mabilin emphasizes. The aim, he adds, is to “put plastics on the same level as climate on the agenda of companies” so that they reduce their plastic footprints in the same way as their carbon footprints. . The international community, under the auspices of the UN, has started negotiations aimed at developing an agreement to combat plastic pollution by 2024, very difficult discussions. Danone says it supports the creation of a “globally binding global agreement on plastics”, which poses a “systemic problem that cannot be solved by a single company”. myl/bl/ico/LyS

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