A new lawsuit accuses water bottle companies of lying to consumers in California when labeling their plastic products as “100 percent biodegradable and recyclable.” State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris names three companies in the “greenwashing” suit, filed in Orange County Superior Court earlier today. State law forbids companies from marking their food or beverage packaging as “biodegradable.”

Two of the companies, Balance and Aquamantra, claim their bottles are the first ones created with the ability to decompose in less than five years in a landfill or compost area, but the lawsuit says the additives are ineffective, rendering the “biodegradable” claim false. Plastic takes thousands of years to break down, and the breakdown doesn't always happen when those bottles sit in a landfill after consumers fail to properly recycle.

“These companies' actions violate state law and mislead consumers,” Harris said. “Californians are committed to recycling and protecting the environment, but these efforts are undermined by the false and misleading claims these companies make when they wrongly advertise their products as 'biodegradable.'”

A national Gallup poll conducted earlier this year found that 76 percent of American consumers buy products based on the perception that they are safer for the environment.

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