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published on August 11, 2021 - 12:39 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Fresno County is among nearly two dozen California counties to settle “greenwashing” cases with a number of major retailers, including Target.

The cases were based on allegations that companies including Chewy, PetSmart, Petco and Target sold pet waste bags and other plastic products labeled with misleading environmental claims, including to their biodegradability.

“Greenwashing” refers to deceptive marketing claims that mislead consumers into believe products have certain environmental benefit over other similar products, according to a news release from Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp.

The cases are being settled along with 22 other district attorney’s office in California. Stipulated judgments were filed in the amounts of $600,000 by Chewy; $375,000 by Petco; $500,000 by PetSmart; and $300,000 by Target. Each stipulated judgment includes a court order prohibiting future similar violations.

“Certain pet waste bags are promoted as ‘eco-friendly’ by claiming that they are biodegradable or break down more readily over time than other plastic bags,” according to Smittcamp’s announcement. “Because plastic bags holding pet waste are typically only appropriate for disposal in landfills, which are designed to prevent biodegradation, claims that they provide an environmental benefit by degrading over time are deceptive. For these reasons, California prohibits the sale of plastic bags (and other plastic products) labeled with claims of biodegradability or similar terms implying the plastic will degrade.”

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