Commit a waste crime and you may end up behind bars - was the message that came out of a new Environment Agencys report. Putting the Brakes on Climate Change, Spotlight on Business Environmental Performance in 2006 shows that courts handed out sentences of more than 11 years behind bars, millions in court fines and more than 240 days of community service to individuals and companies who committed a crime last year. It shows how courts have taken a tougher line against companies who flout environmental laws. Prosecutions against companies totalled over £3.5 million in fines in 2006 compared to £2.7 million in 2005. Environment Agency chief executive Barbara Young said: We are pleased the courts are starting to get the message that environmental crime is a serious offence. Although this is a good sign, penalties for environmental crime still are not harsh enough. Some fines can be as low as a thousandth of a per cent of a companys worth and despite the higher penalties, the average fine was still only £11,800. The law is there to protect our environment and so those business and individuals who think they can cut corners best watch out we will not tolerate it. However, the report also found that businesses are still too wasteful, with EA regulated industries producing 40% more waste since 2000. It puts this large figure down to changes in the regulation in which more companies have to report the waste they produce to the EA. Illegal waste is still a big problem of all the companies fined £5,000 or more in 2006 more than a third were prosecuted for illegal waste activities. Young said: A recent Environment Agency survey shows that only 8% of businesses think they have a significant impact on our environment, a worrying sign as we all have an impact on our environment and part to play in combating climate change. At the end of the day it pays to be green. We all know too well that we have little time left to put the brakes on climate change and preserve our environment, so business as usual just wont do. Environmental Services Association chief executive Dirk Hazell added: A really strong focus by the EA and Government on tackling environmental criminals who operate outside the regulated system will continue to be needed to protect neighbourhoods and public health and to support real progress made by our sector.