Plastic poses dangers throughout its lifetime: its fossil fuel-based production accelerates global warming, its waste pollutes the oceans and contributes to the destruction of marine biodiversity, and its collection and recycling in developing countries endangers the health of millions of people. That’s why the NGOs want the French yogurt and water bottler multinational Danone to get rid of plastic in a summons submitted to a Paris court on Monday, January 9.
Three NGOs, ClientEarth, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste France, are calling for Danone to plan a “deplasticization trajectory” or order to get out of plastic, deeming Danone’s efforts insufficient. ” We know that this cannot be done overnight, but it must start today.“, NGO coalition spokeswoman Antidia Citores pleaded to AFP.
Three environmental NGOs are implementing the procedure in France under a 2017 “duty of vigilance” law, which obliges major French companies to treat their suppliers worldwide with respect for fundamental human rights and the environment.
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 for financing new oil and gas projects…
Danone was first officially notified by a coalition of NGOs at the end of September, at the same time eight behemoths of the food industry and distribution (Auchan, Carrefour, Lactalis, etc.) The coalition designated only Danone, then stepped in. The procedure leading to a hearing before the Paris court. ” Dialogue with others (companies) is still ongoing. It is not excluded that they also have to answer before French justice“, Sebastien Mabile, one of the lawyers of the NGO, told AFP.
Danone is dropping the ball, NGOs say, because the group does not mention plastic pollution in its “vigilance plan”, despite being 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 waters (Volvic, Evian or Aqua in Indonesia), bills itself as “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.
Remove the plastic from the 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 has set a goal of “100% reusable or compostable” packaging design by 2025.
NGOs criticize it for betting on recycling packaging instead of tackling the problem at source by reducing its use of plastic in favor of returnable bottles, for example.
” Recycled plastic does not prevent plastics from being at the bottom of the ocean“Ms. Citores summarizes. He also regrets that the group buys vegetables grown under polypropylene-lined plastic greenhouses—for example, for baby Blédina meals.
More broadly, activists are demanding an end to the “extremely serious environmental damage” caused by its activities, Me Mabilin emphasizes. The goal, he adds, is to “put plastic on the agenda of companies on the same level as climate,” so that they reduce their plastic footprints as much 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”.