Hilex Poly, a South Carolina-based manufacturer of plastic bags, has agreed to settle a lawsuit that it and two other plastic bag manufacturers had filed against ChicoBag, a California company that makes reusable bags. Along with the two other plastic bag companies (Superbag Operating, LTD., and Advance Polybag, Inc.), Hilex Poly had sued on the grounds that a “Learn the Facts” page on ChicoBag’s website was “false and misleading” and had caused the companies “irreparable harm.”
As noted in a press release, ChicoBag’s “Learn the Facts” page contained “widely accepted third party statistics regarding the impact of single-use plastic bags on the environment.” When ChicoBag requested that the three plastic bag companies back up their claims about the actual recycling rate of plastic bags, Superbag Operating and Advance Polybag withdrew from the lawsuit. Now the lone plaintiff, Hilex Poly has agreed to settle.
It’s a victory for the environment and environmental advocates that Care2 members helped to make happen. ChicoBag Founder and president Andy Keller presented Hilex Poly with 25,000 signatures from petitions including this one from Care2. Other grassroots organizations that submitted signatures were the Surfrider Foundation, Heal the Bay, Earth Resource Foundation, Environmental Working Group and Green Cities California.
The settlement is not only a victory for ChicoBag. It also means that the public will be accurately informed about the environmental impact of single-use plastic bags. According to the settlement agreement, Hilex Poly and ChicoBag have agreed to a number of provisions including:
- Both parties will provide citations and dates for all facts and statistics on any web page or advertising, excluding labels and hangtags.
- Hilex Poly agrees that to the extent permitted by customers and in the normal rotation of plate replacement, it will include a statement on its products: “Tie Bag in Knot Before Disposal.”
- Hilex will include statements on a website that discuss ways to prevent windblown litter.
- ChicoBag will stop any countdown list for Hilex to dismiss the litigation.
ChicoBag had already updated its website in regard to Hilex Poly’s earlier concerns.
In a statement, Keller, who dons 500 plastic bags as the “Bag Monster,” commented on how the lawsuit, which had “started as a bullying tactic,” has “morphed into two wins for the environment” by requiring plastic bags manufacturers to provide accurate information about the impact of single-use plastic bags:
“First, Hilex Poly can no longer inflate plastic bag recycling numbers by including non-bag wrap and plastic film. And they have also agreed to acknowledge that plastic bags can become wind-blown litter despite proper disposal and to better educate the public.”
“Ultimately, I hope this settlement will encourage Hilex Poly and the rest of the plastic bag industry to refrain from filing any future frivolous lawsuits, stop attacking reusable bags, and instead invest their dollars into reducing unnecessary single-use bag consumption and litter, while developing solutions to meet the growing consumer demand for more sustainable products.”
To all who signed the petition, thank you!
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Photo by eflon