The Red Bull Company has been ordered to pay a record £271,800 fine after failing to recover and recycle packaging waste.
The London-based soft drinks company pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to charges of failing to register with the Environment Agency as a producer of packaging waste, and charges of failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste with respect to each of the eight years between 1999 and 2006.
The company was fined £261,278 and ordered to pay £3,755 in costs to the Environment Agency. The company was ordered to pay compensation of £6,854 to the Environment Agency for unpaid registration fees for the years 1999 to 2006 inclusive.
This overtakes the previous highest fine of £225,000, which was imposed in January 2008 on a Midlands company that also failed to register as a producer of packaging waste.
Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, businesses that have an annual turnover in excess of a specified amount (£2m since 2000) and handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year, must be registered with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme. Each year, obligated businesses must also provide evidence of payment for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste.
Red Bull approached the Environment Agency in July 2007 to say that it was not registered with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme. The company co-operated with the Environment Agency and admitted that its turnover and packaging handled was more than the threshold limits allowed by the regulations.
By not registering it was estimated that Red Bull made a saving of more than £180,000.
The regulations make businesses take responsibility for the packaging waste they produce by making them pay towards overall recovery and recycling costs. This should lead to a reduction in packaging, greater recycling and recovery and a decrease in the amount of packaging that ends up in landfill sites.
Details of the regulations are available in trade journals, through trade organisations and online, but many businesses are said to ignore this responsibility.
Environment officer, Helen Pavlou, 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 came to us when it realised its 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 and other companies means that there is less investment in the recycling industry than there should be.'