The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is taking aim at an advertising campaign for Eco Canteen stainless steel water bottles, claiming the ads wrongly suggest that plastic water bottles are unhealthy and unsafe.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, IBWA claims that Eco Canteen’s television ads and content on various Eco Canteen websites deceive the public into believing that single-serve and reusable plastic water bottles constitute a safety and health risk to consumers. Among other things, IBWA’s lawsuit alleges that some of Eco Canteen’s ads have:

  • Improperly linked plastic water bottles to breast and prostate cancer and stated that plastic water bottles “could be poisoning you and your family”;
  • Matched images of single-serve plastic water bottles with Eco Canteen’s claims “relating to an organic compound called Bisphenol A (BPA) with the intent to confuse consumers into believing that single-serve bottles also contain BPA even though they do not”;
  • Conveyed false and misleading information regarding the alleged health risks of BPA; and
  • Suggested that exposing certain water bottles to warm temperatures can lead to leaching of chemicals.

IBWA brings two claims against Eco Canteen: (i) a false advertising claim under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125; and (ii) an unfair competition claim under North Carolina law. A copy of the complaint (including exhibits showing some of the Eco Canteen ads about which IBWA complains) is available here.