A significant proportion of UK businesses are affected by the Packaging Waste Regulations and the vast majority are registered and comply each year, yet it surprises me just how many organisations are either completely unaware of, misunderstand the requirements, or in a few cases are still deliberately avoiding their obligations under this piece of legislation.
This is concerning because an organisation that is found to be non-compliant by the Environment Agency could be prosecuted and face significant fines.
Prosecution often leads to bad press, leaving a black mark against the organisation, which can prove to be more detrimental than prosecution itself. This is especially problematic as consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of and sensitive to the importance of purchasing goods and services from companies that have a strong environmental ethos.
Part of my role as a Technical Advisor at Valpak involves providing a helping hand to organisations that are facing prosecution to make up for prior offences under the Packaging Waste Regulations.
I firstly advise that these organisations register with the Valpak Packaging Compliance Scheme (or similar approved organisation) as soon as possible; this ensures that the company is actively doing something about their non-compliance but it does not mean that they have offset their obligations for previous years. The organisation still may face prosecution, but at least will be seen to be compliant going forward.
There is, however, good news for companies based in England and Wales, as they can now choose to offset their non-compliance in previous years and avoid prosecution, as well as negative PR, by funding a relevant environmental project as part of the civil sanctions regime. These are normally either charity or local authority projects. The official name for this option is Enforcement Undertaking and the process is as follows:
- Determine how long the organisation was non-compliant for and / or were there any mitigating circumstances
- Calculate costs avoided (an organisation’s obligations over the years of non-compliance)
- Source a relevant environmental project to fund (preferably a packaging / waste recycling project)
- Contact the charity or local authority and request a proposal, which should outline the project they need funding for
- Submit the proposal (complete Enforcement Undertaking (EU) Offer forms) to the Environmental Agency – The proposal should clearly outline how funds will be spent by the charity / local authority
- It should be noted that the company is not allowed to have a direct link to the chosen charity and that the fund itself should not be seen as a donation
Even better news is that organisations can outsource all of the above to Valpak, which saves time, resource and money. We can help companies by offering as much or little help as required - including investigating and completing the EU offer on a company’s behalf and sourcing an appropriate environmental project to fund.
It is very important to bear in mind that the Environment Agency may reject the EU; however, as Valpak has significant experience of the process it is less likely to happen if you outsource the work to us, as we understand what they are looking for in a proposal.
There are also plans to introduce a similar civil sanctions regime in Scotland; this is currently under consultation.
If you think that your organisation may not be compliant with the Packaging Waste Regulations get in touch with us as soon as possible and we will guide you through the process.
For further information regarding civil sanctions for non-compliance with the Packaging Waste Regulations please visit www.gov.uk