Keurig Canada fined $3 million for misleading claims over coffee pod recyling

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The Competition Bureau says Keurig Canada will pay a $3 million fine for making false or misleading claims that its single-use K-Cup pods can be recycled.

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In a statement Thursday, the bureau says the company has voluntarily reached an agreement that will include a donation of $800,000 to the fine plus an environmental charity and $85,000 in competition bureau expenses for the case.

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Keurig reportedly came to an agreement last month to settle a class-action suit in the United States over the same issue, though the details of that agreement are not yet public.

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The company was investigated by the Competition Bureau for claims that its single-use plastic beverage pods could be recycled if consumers peeled off the metal lids and emptied any of the ingredients, such as coffee grounds. could.

But the bureau said K-cups are not widely accepted for recycling in any province except Quebec and British Columbia and that these directives are not sufficient for many cities to accept them in a recycling program.

Ordered to change packaging, notify customers

In addition to financial penalties, Keurig Canada must change its packaging, publish notices about the changes on its websites, social media and local and national media outlets, as well as include information in packaging for new Keurig brewing machines and Have to send one. Email to customers.

“It is an illegal practice in Canada to portray products or services as having more environmental benefit than they actually are,” Competition Commissioner Matthew Boswell said in a statement.

“False or misleading claims by businesses promoting ‘greener’ products harm consumers who are unable to make informed buying decisions, as well as competition and businesses that actually offer products with low environmental impact.”

K-Cups are not accepted by many recycling programs

Cynthia Shanks, senior director of communications and sustainability at Keurig Canada, said in an emailed statement that three years ago, Keurig switched its pods to use the type of plastic that is most accepted by Canada’s recycling programs. .

But she said that many still don’t accept K-Cups.

“As we continue to work with municipalities and the recycling industry to increase K-Cup pod recycling acceptance, we are developing our communications with consumers to share how the pods are recycled in select communities. are disposable and remind you of proper steps to recycle them.” Shanks said.

“The agreement with Canada’s Bureau of Competition will further enhance our communication, reminding consumers to verify whether K-Cup pods are accepted in their municipality’s recycling program and, if so, if the pods are ready for recycling. Any additional steps needed to be done.”

The Competition Act prohibits companies from making false or misleading claims about their products, including environmental claims. Five years ago, the Competition Bureau issued a warning to companies that “greenwashing” their products is illegal in Canada.

“The Competition Act targets environmental claims that are vague, non-specific, incomplete or irrelevant and that cannot be supported through verifiable testing methods,” the 2017 statement read.

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