February 19, 2024

P&G, consumers in false recyclable label ads, dangerous plastic complaint sign mediation agreement

MAKATI CITY, PHILIPPINES – Filipino consumers and Procter and Gamble Company (US), its Philippines subsidiary Procter and Gamble Philippines, Inc. have entered into a mediation agreement to amicably settle a case filed before the Department of Trade and Industry – Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (DTI-FTEB) for alleged false or misleading advertisements and dangerous plastic packaging.

ON FEBRUARY 14, 2024 – Filipino consumers and Procter and Gamble Company (US), its Philippines subsidiary Procter and Gamble Philippines, Inc. have entered into a mediation agreement to settle a case involving alleged false or misleading advertisements and dangerous plastic packaging. Photo: Nadia Cruz for 350 Pilipinas


The complaint against P&G, an American multinational consumer goods corporation, and its Philippine subsidiary stemmed from alleged false or misleading recyclable labels the company uses in the packaging of its products.  In their complaint, the consumers ssaid they were misled by the labels of the products packaging’s recyclability, which they argued to be false. 

Plastic is also dangerous throughout its life cycle according to the consumers. Plastic packaging is single-use plastic that ends up in water bodies, thereby causing ocean plastic pollution that impacts the economy, and the health and well-being of people in coastal communities. 

A UN Environment Programme (UNEP) study found that, more than 13,000 chemicals have been identified as associated with plastics and plastic production across a wide range of applications. 

Of the 7 respondent companies in the case that was filed before the DTI-FTEB in Nov., 2022, only P&G offered to sit down and dialogue with the complainants which was “a responsible corporate behavior” according to lawyer Zelda Soriano of Community Legal Help and Public Interest Centre, representing the consumers.   

Community Legal Help & Public Interest Centre’s Atty. Zelda Soriano reviews and signs the mediation agreement to settle complaints under the reported breach of the Philippines’ Consumer law. Photo: Nadia Cruz fro 350 Pilipinas


Through their lawyers, the complainants Efren Andrade et al, and the respondents, P&G and P&G Philippines, have signed a mediation agreement putting to rest the complaint for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

The mediation agreement states that during the mediation conferences held by the DTI-FEB and further dialogues, the respondents have been able to address the claims of the complainants to their satisfaction and the parties agreed to amicably settle the case for the complainants to withdraw the complaint subject to certain conditions.

“This is a victory for both the complainants and the respondents and credit is due to the mediation of the DTI that opened the opportunity for the parties to dialogue further,” says Enrique Beren, one of the complainants and leader of non-profit Young Bataeños for Environmental  Advocacy Network.

Part of the terms and conditions of the agreement is the symbolic and “goodwill” refund of the purchase price of the product which is the subject of the complaint against P&G.

While the recycling labels on their products are compliant with applicable laws and regulations as far as the respondents are concerned, “there is recognition by both parties that there are opportunities to improve labeling on plastic packaging as mandated by the Extended Producer Responsibility Act (R.A. 11898), Consumer Act of the Philippines (R.A. 7394) DTI Department Order No. 01 s. 2008 and DTI’s forum tackling plastic pollution and/or educational campaign in consumer’s rights and environmental sustainability.”

Fread De Mesa, another complainant and Coordinator of 350 Pilipinas, described the agreement as “a win for communities throughout the country whose lives have been impacted by plastic pollution.”

“This situation underscores the pressing importance of corporate responsibility. It is essential that these large corporations understand their role in the current environmental crisis and take proactive steps to mitigate the harm caused by plastic pollution. It is their duty to ensure that the products they manufacture and market do not mislead consumers about their environmental impact. It is also their responsibility to actively participate in efforts aimed at reducing the pollution caused by their products and to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable and eco-friendly future,” De Mesa emphasized.

As part of the agreement, the respondents will review recommended improvements on recycling labels based on the complainants’ suggestions. Although the respondents will have sole discretion to implement or not the recommended improvements, the complainants reserve the right to take appropriate action should the concern remain unaddressed despite completion of exhausting open communication between the parties.

Under the agreement, the parties will endeavor to maintain open communication and undertake bi-annual closed-door meetings this year, to hear the complainants’ environmentally sustainable solutions to reduce plastic and promote reuse and refill packaging. 

The complainants will be represented by Greenpeace, Ecowaste Coalition and Break Free From Plastic Movement in the said bi-annual meetings. Lea Guerrero, country director of Greenpeace Philippines said: “We look forward to seeing companies like P&G changing course toward the right direction, and we commend communities such as the fisherfolk, women’s and youth groups in Bataan who continue to be vigilant against big corporations in protecting the rights of Filipinos.”

This is the second agreement entered into by P&G with consumers that have similar complaint.

In the United States, a report in the WSJ Pro Sustainable Business website revealed that some of the world’s biggest consumer-goods companies agreed to change their recycling labels for some products after reaching a settlement with an anti-plastic group that said they misled shoppers about the scope of a recycling initiative. 

“Earlier this year, Last Beach Cleanup, a nonprofit that criticizes companies for plastic waste and poor recycling practices, filed a lawsuit in California against recycling startup TerraCycle Inc. and eight companies it works with, including Procter &Gamble Co, and Coca-Cola Co alleging that consumers weren’t told about limits on TerraCycle programs that meant their waste might not get recycled,” the report said.  (End)