ALBANY, New York, August 5, 2008 (ENS) - The Pepsi Bottling Group has been fined $65,000 for distributing drinks with illegible refund information on the bottles.
Improper labeling of bottles prevented some consumers from redeeming the containers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said Thursday.
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.
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 tiny bar codes on the bottles.
Pepsi cooperated with DEC and supplied information about the number and types of bottles distributed with improper labeling.
The company quickly corrected the problem and has since changed to a label instead of printing refund information directly on the bottle.
Most of the fine will go to fund projects that promote recycling programs in schools and among the public.
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, or NYSAR3. The advisory organization helps people reduce, reuse and recycle through information and promotion of best management practices.
The organization can use the funds for a variety of activities and purchases from providing composting bins for use at schools and community recreational facilities, buying recycling collection containers, and creating signage and educational materials.
Under a cooperation agreement, NYSAR3 will distribute the funds with DEC approval.
People who have problems claiming their refunds at a store that accepts redeemable containers can contact DEC at 1-800-TIPP-DEC.
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