Fiji Water Sued for Greenwashing

Fiji Over Lake Michigan

A novel strategy. Will it change anything? Probably not, unless people stop purchasing Fiji Water.

A Southern California woman has sued the FIJI Water Company in a class action complaint that alleges the firm’s claim of having a carbon-negative product amounts to false and misleading advertising that sways consumers to buy the pricey bottled water.

The law firm Newport Trial Group filed the suit on December 20 in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on behalf of Southern California resident Desiree Worthington, who is described as having purchased FIJI Water repeatedly in the past four years — a period that roughly coincides with the start of FIJI’s carbon-negative marketing campaign.

FIJI Water announced the campaign in November 2007 as part of a broader plan to make the bottling, packaging and transportation of the product more environmentally responsible.


(click to continue reading FIJI Water Sued Over Claim That Product is Carbon Negative | Reuters.)

The complaint says:

“Defendants’ carbon-negative claim is deceptive and misleading … reasonable consumers of FIJI water understand Defendants’ ‘carbon-negative’ claim as meaning that FIJI water’s current operations remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they release into it. This is simply not the case; in reality, FIJI water’s operations do not remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they release into it. Instead, they use a discredited carbon accounting method called ‘forward crediting.’

“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.”

And Mother Jones adds:

Despite selling, you know, water, Fiji Water is not the most transparent corporation. The company, the subject of a groundbreaking investigative feature we ran in 2009, is now the target of a lawsuit for deceptively marketing itself as “carbon-negative.” A US District Court class-action suit filed by a Newport, California, firm on behalf of a Santa Ana woman named Desiree Worthington accuses Fiji Water of using a practice known as “forward crediting”: essentially, giving yourself credit for carbon reductions that haven’t happened yet.

In the lawsuit, Worthington argues that she paid more for Fiji Water specifically because it advertised itself as a carbon-negative product. She says she expected that the “carbon-negative” label meant that Fiji was currently taking more carbon out of the environment than it was producing. This is consistent with the company’s view: Fiji Water claims on its website to have been “a carbon-negative brand” since 2008, “under which we will continue to offset 120% of our emissions” (emphasis mine). However, under the forward crediting model, the offsets do not need to be currently occurring, they can simply be anticipated actions. Indeed, Fiji Water has said in a press release that the offsets necessary to make it “carbon-negative” will not be realized until 2037.

(click to continue reading Fiji Water Sued for Greenwashing | Mother Jones.)


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