Attorney general files lawsuit over biogradeable bottles


Avid recyclers like Steve Riker were suspicious when he read a plastic water bottle was 100 percent biodegradable.

"Biodegradeable means like you go out to your garden and you have compost to enrich your garden," said Riker. "How are you going to enrich the earth with plastic?"

California Attorney General Kamala Harris agrees and filed a lawsuit against two water companies, AquaMatra and Balance, and their bottle supplier ENSO Plastics for illegally claiming bottles are biodegradable.

The lawsuit also seeks to have the products removed from the shelves.

"This is, essentially, as far as I'm concerned, about a company and folks profiting off of California's natural to make sure we protect our environment," Harris said.

ENSO Plastics says it stands behind its technology. In its marketing video, the company says with certain additives the bottle biodegrades if placed in an environment with microbes.

Environmental groups say there's no such thing as a biodegradable plastic bottle. That's why there's a 2008 California law that essentially prohibits the use of that term on plastic bottles.

"The chemical additive is designed to help break the bottle down into smaller pieces," said Mark Murray with Californians Against Waste, "but the smaller pieces don't provide any environmental benefit."

Balance Water has decided to change its labeling and reluctantly may change its bottle supplier despite a strong belief in ENSO's research.

"We were presented with some credible and strong evidence of biodegradation from ENSO," said Martin Chalk, co-founder of Balance Water.

The other water bottle company, AquaMantra, said it's water bottles are biodegradeable and would never make false claims because of its strong environmental philosophy.

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