Packaging errors lead to costly donations for UK businesses

Failure to comply with the Packaging Waste Regulations has cost UK businesses around £304,000 so far this year.

According to data published by the Environment Agency, between January and July 2016,  fourteen companies received civil sanctions for failing to register as obligated producers, or to take reasonable steps to recycle packaging waste.

A business that produces or handles more than 50 tonnes of packaging and has a turnover of more than £2 million must comply with the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations. Introduced in 1997, the Packaging Regulations require companies to finance the recovery and recycling of packaging materials in proportion to the amount they have placed on the market. Companies can do this by registering with the Environment Agency, either through a packaging compliance scheme, or directly.

An estimated £304,000 has been paid to charities this year by businesses that failed to comply with the Packaging Waste Regulations, securing an enforcement undertaking rather than face the possibility of a court appearance and potential fine.

Civil sanctions were introduced in 2011 as an alternative to prosecution and mean that businesses based in England and Wales who have been non-compliant with the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations since April 2010 can avoid the courts by offering a sum of money to a suitable environmental project in compensation.

The largest fee paid out for packaging non-compliance over the six-month period was by wine and sherry producer Gonzalez Byass UK Limited, which paid a contribution of £120,000 to the Woodland Trust.

Martin Trigg-Knight, Clarity Environmental's Account Manager for packaging compliance, said: “We urge any business that believes it may be obligated under the Packaging Waste Regulations to take immediate action and avoid costly prosecution. The regulations were introduced to reduce the impact of the packaging we create on the environment, but we can only achieve this if those businesses that are obligated understand and act on their responsibilities.

“Preparing an enforcement undertaking takes a lot of work and a great deal of evidence must be provided to satisfy the regulators that the business has taken the process seriously. In most cases the civil sanction will have cost a business considerably more than if they had registered for the correct number of years, but timely action will help avoid prosecution, which can do untold damage to the reputation of a business."

The full list of companies that failed to register with compliance schemes and/or recycle packaging waste, and the amount donated to charity as an enforcement undertaking, is on the Environment Agency’s website.

If you believe that your business may be obligated under the Packaging Waste Regulations, contact our specialist team for a confidential discussion about the options available to you.

Clarity packaging compliance

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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