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Nestlé accused of Greenwashing – Complaint Filed Today

Monday, December 1st 2008 2:03:36pm

Nestlé accused of Greenwashing – Complaint Filed Today
Advertising Standards Canada asked to probe Green Advertisement

Ottawa – Friends of the Earth Canada, Ecojustice, the Polaris Institute, the Council of Canadians, and Wellington Water Watchers filed a complaint this morning under the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards alleging that Nestlé Waters North America has broken advertising rules in claims it made regarding the environmental impacts of its products.

The groups argue that Nestlé is attempting to mislead the public on the true impacts of bottled water.  The complaint cites a full-page advertisement that appeared in the Globe and Mail in October, which contained a series of statements, including that:

• “most water bottles avoid landfill sites and are recycled”;
• “bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world”; and,
• “Nestlé Pure Life is a Healthy, Eco-Friendly Choice”.  

The groups argue that Nestlé’s ad made unsupported and misleading statements regarding the environmental impacts of its products, thereby contravening the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards and new guidelines that have been set by Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Canadian Standards Association to ensure environmental claims are specific and verifiable.

"Based on our review of the representations made by Nestlé Waters in this advertisement, it is clear that they are not supported by fact – we believe this is an outrageous example of greenwashing," says Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Earth. "The truth is that many water bottles are not being recycled, a phenomena that Nestlé Waters itself - in direct contradiction to its own advertisement – admits in its 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report." Olivastri points out that Nestlé Waters states in the report that many of its own bottles end up in the solid waste-stream and that many of them are not recycled even though they are recyclable. (See http://www.nestle-watersna.com/pdf/Nestle_Corporate_Citizenship_Report_Final.pdf, at page 37).

"The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards clearly states that advertisements must not contain inaccurate or deceptive claims, or statements,” adds Hugh Wilkins, Staff Lawyer, Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund). “The Advertising Standards Canada has an important role in ensuring that claims in ads are substantiated and honest. We look forward to its determination on whether this is such a case."  

“We are clearly interested in how the Advertising Standards Canada proceeds,” says Olivastri.  “We believe that this is an egregious case of deception made at a sensitive time as major decisions to ban bottled water are being made by municipalities and school boards across Canada.  It is disappointing that a multinational company like Nestlé Waters appears to have violated these standards.”

The complaint is filed by Friends of the Earth Canada and Ecojustice along with the Polaris Institute, the Council of Canadians, and Wellington Water Watchers.

Copies of the coalition's complaint concerning Nestlé Waters’ advertisement are available upon request.

For more information, contact:
Beatrice Olivastri 613 241-085 x 26
Hugh Wilkins 416 368-7533 x34