Brazilian court mandates that beverage manufacturer collect bottles thrown away by consumers

18 de setembro de 2014

A Superior Brazilian Court of Justice (STJ) upheld a state decision that forced a beverage manufacturer to collect empty recipients left in streets, streams and any other undue location by consumers; inform repurchasing procedures on product labels and apply 20% of its advertising budget to educational campaigns.

This decision backed the position of a State Court, where Refrigerantes Imperial Ltda. was found guilty of environmental damages resulting from the wrongful disposal of PET bottles containing its products by consumers.

According to the STJ, the manufacturer has a constitutional responsibility to preserve the environment and must adopt measures to reduce the impacts of its economic activities.

The ruling was published on August 18 and is still subject to appeal. The decision is unprecedented within the STJ and tracks the increasing importance of environmental issues in the Superior Courts rulings.

The ruling was part of a public civil suit filed by Habitat – Environmental Defense and Education Association, which sought the suspension of manufacturing of products in PET bottles by the company. The bottles were not collected and disposed appropriately, causing severe environmental damages.

According to the Estate Court of Justice, the use of PET bottles allows beverage producers to reduce costs and increase profits, leading many to choose this environmentally harmful product. Therefore, the company could not transfer its responsibility for disposal of residue to the government or the population.

The ruling holds only for the company in question; however, the precedent will have a negative effect on all companies that use this material in their products in the event of a lawsuit against them.