July 31, 2008
DEC Enforcement Against Pepsi to Result in Recycling Education
Company Paid $65,000 in Fines and Support for Community Benefit Projects
Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. has agreed to a settlement to resolve environmental violations stemming from the improper labeling of bottles that prevented some consumers from redeeming containers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The company was fined $65,000 - the majority of which will be going to fund projects to promote recycling programs in schools and among the public.
An investigation by DEC Environmental Conservation Officers revealed that Pepsi had manufactured 24-ounce and 12-ounce bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry and Diet Mountain Dew with refund information that was too small or illegible. The products were provided to Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target, Tops, Wegmans, and small independent stores in various upstate locations. Pepsi cooperated with DEC and supplied information about the number and types of bottles distributed with improper labeling.
Customers who tried to redeem the bottles, especially at smaller convenience stores without automatic bottle return equipment, were turned away from claiming a bottle's refund. The printed refund information on the bottles was so small that the store owners assumed a bottle was purchased in a state which does not have a bottle bill deposit and refused to issue refunds. Larger stores with the automatic bottle returns use scanners that were able to read the bar codes on the bottles. Pepsi took immediate action to correct the problem and has since changed to a label instead of printing refund information directly on the bottle.
As required by the settlement, $40,000 of Pepsi's fine has been provided to the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3). The organization can use the funds for a variety of activities and purchases including providing composting bins for use at schools and community-based recreational facilities, buying recycling collection containers, and creating signage and educational materials. NYSAR3 will distribute the funds with DEC approval, under a cooperation agreement between DEC and NYSAR3.
Individuals who have problems claiming their refund at a store that accepts redeemable containers can contact DEC at 1-800-TIPP-DEC.