The nation's largest retailer will fork over nearly $1 million in civil penalties and payments after settling what one county district attorney in California called “greenwashing” claims.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. settled a case that alleged the company sold plastic products in stores and online that were “misleadingly” labeled as biodegradable or compostable in violation of California law.
“Unfortunately, Californians concerned with reducing plastic waste in landfills are commonly misled to purchase plastic bags and other plastic products based on marketers' unsubstantiated claims of biodegradability,” O'Malley said in a statement. “But almost nothing breaks down in a landfill. That's why the sale of plastic products labeled ‘biodegradable' is illegal in California.”
Wal-Mart is paying $875,000 in civil penalties and $50,000 to fund state testing of plastic products marketed as compostable and degradable. Subsidiary Jet.com also will pay $15,000 in civil penalties, the district attorney said.
The case involved 23 district attorney's offices in California.
While reaching the settlement, the district attorney's offices did thank Wal-Mart and Jet.com for their cooperation and for making changes to their websites and at stores.