·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Connecticut Sues Reynolds Over Recycling Message on Hefty Bags

— June 23, 2022

Hefty bags are not actually recyclable, according to Connecticut’s AG.

The State of Connecticut has filed a lawsuit against Reynolds Consumer Products over Hefty “recycling” trash bags that are actually not recyclable.  The suit alleges the company is engaging in illegal marketing practices, including displaying the bags as recyclable both on their packaging as well as the company’s website.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said Reynolds is violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act and said, in reality, “the bags cannot go into the state’s single-stream recycling system.”  The Act specifically states, “It is deceptive to misrepresent, directly or by implication, that a product or package is recyclable.  A product or package should not be marketed as recyclable unless it can be collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.”

Tong said, “Hefty Recycling Bags are not recyclable, and any recyclable items inside them are tossed on the trash heap.  But you would never know that based on Reynolds’s false advertisements.  Reynolds deceived Connecticut families and undermined our state’s recycling systems.  Our lawsuit seeks to hold Reynolds accountable for these intentional misrepresentations.”

Connecticut Sues Reynolds Over Recycling Message on Hefty Bags
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month in the Connecticut Superior Court and the state is asking for an unspecified amount of monetary damages including attorneys’ fees and bag sales in addition to an order preventing Reynold’s from engaging in further deception.

The lawsuit itself explains, “Hefty ‘Recycling’ trash bags are sold in 13- and 30-gallon sizes…Defendants place a prominent representation ‘RECYCLING’ on the front label of the Hefty ‘Recycling’ trash bags with a green background and white font.  Next to the representation, Defendants include images of the Hefty ‘Recycling’ trash bags filled with recyclable waste…The back of the package states: ‘HEFTY RECYCLING BAGS ARE PERFECT FOR ALL YOUR RECYCLING NEEDS’.  The back label also states: ‘DESIGNED TO HANDLE ALL TYPES OF RECYCLABLES’ and ‘TRANSPARENT FOR QUICK SORTING AND CURBSIDE IDENTIFICATION.’  A graphic of a blue recycling truck is included, with the ‘chasing arrows’ recycling symbol prominently displayed on its side.”

The suit goes on to describe references to supposed recyclable bags on the the company’s website and various graphics showing Hefty trash bags being filled with recyclables and being inserted into bins.  The state says that when the bags are delivered to its materials recovery facilities (MRFs), not only are the bags themselves diverted to landfills but all genuinely recyclable materials found inside go with them.  This, the state says, completely disregards consumers’ intentions to contribute to the recycling process and makes Reynold’s stated purpose for the bags ineffective.  When Connecticut residents believe they are using Hefty bags to help with the environment, they are being deceived into adding to the problem.  Furthermore, should consumers have known that this was the case, they likely wouldn’t have continued using the bags to carry their recyclables.

“Many people take great care to purchase recyclable products, and it’s important for consumers to be able to easily identify if the products they buy are what they’re advertised to be,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull.  “This is another example of why laws to prevent false or misleading advertisements are so important to help protect consumers.”


Connecticut sues Reynolds over Hefty ‘Recycling Bags’ being non-recyclable


Join the conversation!