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Red Bull hit with record fine for breaching packing regulations

By Rory Harrington , 30-Jul-2009

Red Bull UK has been ordered to pay a record £271,800 for flouting regulations on the recovery and recycling of packaging waste over a period of eight years.

The energy drinks company was hauled before a court in London this week after admitting to 16 charges related to packaging waste offences for each of the years from 1999 to 2006. These included failing to register with the government’s Environment Agency (EA) as a producer of packing waste and breaching requirements to recover and recycle waste packaging.

Record fine

The London-based drinks importer was fined £261,278 and ordered it to pay £3,755 in costs. The company was further ordered to pay compensation of £6,854 to the EA for unpaid registration fees for the years in question. The fine is the largest ever handed to a company, overtaking the previous highest of £225,000 imposed on a Midlands company in January 2008 that also failed to register as a producer of packaging waste.

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, businesses which have an annual turnover exceeding £2 million and handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year must be registered with the EA or a compliance scheme. Each year, obligated businesses must also provide evidence of payment for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. The regulation is aimed at making companies responsible for the packaging waste they produce by making them pay towards the cost of recovery and recycling, said an EA statement.

Company co-operation

Red Bull contacted the agency in July 2007 to say it had not registered with either the organisation or a compliance scheme. In March 2008, company representatives were interviewed under caution and confessed its turnover and packaging handled were more than the threshold limits allowed by the regulations.

The EA estimated that by not registering, Red Bull had made a saving of more than £180,000.

A Red Bull spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com “Red Bull takes its responsibility to the environment very seriously hence our decision to bring this issue to the attention of the authorities and our full cooperation with all legal proceedings. Moving forward, we are now well placed to fulfil our Producer Responsibilities Obligations.”

Non compliance disappointing

Helen Pavlou, of the EA, said: “The regulations are in place to encourage a reduction in the amount of packaging used by business and to decrease the amount of waste that is sent to landfill.

“While it is encouraging that the Red Bull Company Ltd came to us when they realised their mistake, it is disappointing that there are still companies that are not compliant with this important legislation more than a decade after it was passed.

“Money raised from compliance is invested in the recycling industry, so failure to comply by the Red Bull Company Ltd and other companies means that there is less investment in the recycling industry than there should be.”

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