Concerned citizens are proposing a class-action lawsuit against Reynolds Consumer Products for misleading consumers into believing Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil is made in the United States by American workers. The lawsuit alleges that the “Made in U.S.A.” label on the packaging is deceptive since bauxite, the source of commercial aluminum, is mined outside of the United States.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, a product can be labeled as American-made if its final assembly occurs in the United States, most of the product processing happens in America, and “all or virtually all” of its components are sourced from within the United States. The FTC considers the application of the “Made in U.S.A.” label to products that don’t adhere to these guidelines as deceptive to consumers.
The 14-page complaint states, “Assuming that all the processing of the bauxite into foil occurs in the United States, none or virtually none of the raw materials and components used in the Product are sourced in this country.” In 2021, Australia was the worldwide leader in bauxite production, followed by China and Guinea.
The lawsuit points out that the United States was one of the world leaders in bauxite production until World War II. But recently, this hasn’t been the case. No bauxite mined on American soil has been used for aluminum since 1981.
American bauxite production has been steadily decreasing since 2018, which parallels a 2.25% decline in employment in metal ore mining since then. The modern production of aluminum foil depends entirely on bauxite mined outside of the United States. The lawsuit points out that without this imported ore, Reynolds Wrap wouldn’t be able to produce aluminum foil.
According to the case, Reynolds Wrap justifies the label by applying it to the process of transforming bauxite into the finished product rather than the raw materials. Reynolds hires American workers to create and package the final aluminum foil product, which is what they claim the label is referring to.
However, the complaint states that “this is insufficient to qualify the ‘Made in U.S.A.’ claim.” The case considers it deceptive to apply the label to the final product without noting the presence and amount of foreign raw materials.
The suit considers the label misleading because “…consumers are not familiar with the sources of bauxite. Reasonable consumers do not understand Defendant’s claim to refer only to the transformation of bauxite into aluminum foil.”
Because of this alleged deception, the lawsuit claims that Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil is worth “materially less” than how it is represented by the manufacturer. If consumers had “known the truth,” they might not have paid as much for the finished product, or they may not have brought it at all.
The lawsuit seeks to cover consumers in Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming who purchased Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil during the statute of limitations. It will seek reparations against Reynolds Wrap for misleading and deceptive use of the “Made in the U.S.A.” labeling.