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Fiji Water Targeted in ‘Greenwashing’ Class Action Suit

Fiji Water Company has been named in a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif. that alleges the company has profited by greenwashing claims that it’s water products are carbon negative—which means that the production, packaging and shipment of the water removes more carbon pollution from the atmosphere than it releases into it.

The lawsuit was brought by the Newport Beach, Calif.-based Newport Trial Group on behalf of Desiree Worthington and other similarly situated individuals to seek restitution for “the false claims from which [Fiji Water Company has] richly profited.”

According to the complaint, Fiji Water Company has gained significant market share from its carbon negative claim:

“This case is very simple: Defendants convince consumers to buy their “FIJI” brand of bottled water – and to pay more for FIJI than for competing brands –by advertising and labeling FIJI as “The World’s Only CARBON NEGATIVE bottled water”. In other words, Defendants claim that they remove more carbon pollution from our atmosphere than they release into it. In reality, however, FIJI water is not “Carbon Negative.” Instead, Defendants justify this claim by employing a discredited carbon accounting method known as “forward crediting.” Thus, Defendants do not remove more carbon pollution than they create; they simply claim credit for carbon removal that may or may not take place – up to several decades in the future.”

Fiji Water received a slew of unfavorable green press in 2007 after being featured in a TriplePundit article and a Fast Company article.

Following that, the company said it would account for the carbon footprint throughout the entire lifecycle of its products and then, through a combination of reductions, “carbon-reducing land use” and renewable energy projects, would make the production and sale of each bottle of Fiji Water result in a net reduction of carbon in the atmosphere of 20 percent.

But the complaint alleges that the carbon negative claim does not apply to Fiji Water’s current operations, but instead to offsets for future carbon emissions.  It alleges:

“To reduce their carbon footprint, corporations purchase carbon “offset credits,” which is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right of the purchaser to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. “Standard offset credits” represent carbon reductions that have already taken place. By contrast, “forward offset credits” represent carbon reductions that may or may not take place up to several decades in the future.”

Fiji has previously said that offsets generated over 30 years will be used to meet Fiji’s “carbon negative in 2008? commitment.

Fiji Water which recently faced a standoff with the military government of the island nation that provides their water and their name, has not commented on the suit. Last month, the company threatened to leave Fiji and take hundreds of jobs with it, if the Fijian government didn’t repeal an increase in its “extraction tax” from .33 cents to 15 cents per bottle of water.  The government stood firm, and the company decided to stay put and pay the tax.  It remains to be seen whether the company also stands pat on its carbon negative claim.

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7 thoughts on “Fiji Water Targeted in ‘Greenwashing’ Class Action Suit

  1. Who cares about this carbon crap. It’s all a bunch of BS anyway. Fiji water just tastes the best and that’s all that matters.

  2. Glenn Shorr, if you read this, please think. Watch FLOW, For Love Of Water. Companies like Fiji Water are making more money than you can imagine, seriously more money than you could ever imagine. They make SO much money that they didn’t blink at paying 33 cents PER BOTTLE of water from the long time rate of 15 cents.

  3. Iain, since when it’s a sin for a company to make money? Fiji has provided work and an raised the standard of living for the people of Fiji when their own government did not know how or even care. Did you make the Government of Fiji accountable for this in the past? May I remind you that we live in a free market society, not a communist state. If making money legally burns you, I suggest you go to live in Cuba or North Korea and take other useful idiots to them with you.

    I am all for sustainability and sustainmable development, but this idea of punishing just because they have or make money is getting totally out of hand and must be curtailed.

    Please govern yourself, and try to have a Happy 2011.

  4. Iain,

    Sorry to disrupt your socialist incontinent euphoria but if you take the time to read the article it says that the tax was increased from .33 to 15 cents. (For the numerically challenged that is from one third of a cent to fifteen cents per bottle.) Incidentally, that’s just a mere increase of 4,446% !! The kind of tax increase only progressives can get excited about.

  5. Rich Anderson is correct. Outside of disaster and other limited situations, there is no need for bottled water. Alot of bottled water comes from municipal tap water anyway. Bottled water superiority is a marketing myth.

    It can cost up to 8,000 times as much energy to bottle and distribute the water than the energy needed to produce your own readily available tap water. Adding a simple filter to your tap can make a world of taste difference, if you are bothered by it.

    And Glenn Shore is all wrong. CO2-driven global warming is a reality. And water taste is definitely not “all that matters”. I’ll take my energetically cheaper, economically cheaper, readily available, safe, filtered, tap water any day. And fill up my reusable water bottles to take wherever I need.

    Think globally and act locally. Stop contributing to the enormous waste of energy, and the enormous problem of bottle disposal, that is represented by bottled water consumption. It adds nothing to your quality of life, it costs you plenty in wasted expense, and it costs the environment significant and lasting harm via via both CO2 and plastic waste release.

  6. How interesting. I just watched, storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/ and must say I agree that bottled water is not necessary. Nothing wrong with making money, unless it all started with a lie. I this case the lie was that all tap water is bad.

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