Biscuit company pays for packaging regulations oversight

A multinational biscuit company is paying almost £40,000 to charity after an oversight that saw the company failing to comply with the packaging waste regulations for 15 years.

Introduced in 1997, the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations  requires companies to finance the recovery and recycling of packaging materials in proportion to the amount they have placed on the market. Under the regulations, if a business produces or handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging in a year and has a turnover of more than £2 million they must either join a producer compliance scheme or register direct with the Environment Agency.

Bahlsen LLP, a multinational company that imports biscuits and other foods, failed to report the amount of packaging they had imported since 1997, until the company identified themselves that they should have been registered. The Environment Agency said that during the period of non compliance the company had an unfair financial advantage against registered compliant competitors and caused the Agency to lose revenue that would be used for compliance monitoring and regulation.

Bahlsen is said to have improved its operating procedures to prevent further breaches, and offered financial contributions of more than £39,800 to the Wildlife Trust and Woodland Trust, which exceeds the amount it would have cost had they registered in 1997.

Sanjiv Syal, Environment Agency Officer said: “Bahlsen submitted a proactive EU Offer, which means the company voluntarily came to us to report the breaches when the problem was identified. This self reporting means the company benefits from a deduction in the penalty which could have applied had the investigation gone to court, and allows the financial recompense to go to good environmental causes.

“The use of Civil Sanctions, where appropriate, can offer benefits to the environment and the wider world by using resources wisely and allowing the company to get back into compliance whilst still accepting financial responsibility for its breaches.

“We would encourage any other operators who may be eligible to offer an EU to get in touch, before our investigations identify non compliance and we seek a larger penalty.

“Bahlsen was fully cooperative throughout the investigation. The company is keen to do the right thing and be fully compliant with packaging regulations in the future.”

Civil sanctions explained

Civil sanctions were introduced in 2011 as an alternative to prosecution, allowing companies who are non-compliant with the packaging regulations to donate the avoided costs of non-compliance to a charity of environmental concern. The company submits a form, called an Enforcement Undertaking (EU), which details what it has now done to become compliant and the amount they wish to donate.

If you think your business has been non-compliant in previous years, Clarity Environmental can help. Martin Trigg-Knight, Account Manager for our packaging compliance scheme, said: “It can be a worrying time if you realise your business may have breached regulations, but it is important to take immediate action. We can help businesses going through the civil sanction process, and will make the process as simple as we possibly can, working with you throughout the process, liaising with the Environment Agency, assisting your EU offer submission and calculating the costs you have avoided by failing to comply.”

Packaging compliance

At Clarity, we work with companies that handle packaging, helping them to reduce their impact on the environment and ensuring they comply with current regulations. Our approved packaging compliance scheme can handle your producer responsibility obligations on your behalf, giving you peace of mind and saving you time and money. If you would like to find out more, or for a no-obligation quote, get in touch with our team on 0845 129 7177.

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