Fined For Not Joining Recycling Scheme

Fitness product importer and supplier, RFE International Ltd, has been fined for failing to comply with packaging regulations in 2007 and 2008.

The company was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,670 by Milton Keynes Magistrates Court (Fri 1 April). It admitted six offences over two years and asked the court to consider a further 12 offences.

The court heard that an Environment Agency officer visited the company on a routine audit during which it became apparent that the company may be obligated under the Packaging Regulations. The company then provided information that showed it was obligated.

The finance director of the Milton Keynes-based company, told Environment Agency officers that the company handled 278 tonnes of packaging in 2006 and 341 tonnes in 2007 but had not registered to join the recycling scheme because they were unaware of the packaging regulations.

It has been estimated that the total cost avoided by not complying with the scheme was about £12,172.

Mrs Anne-Lise McDonald prosecuting, told the court: “The aim of the packaging regulations is to achieve a more sustainable approach to dealing with packaging by ensuring businesses take responsibility for the packaging used in their operations.

“This in turn reduces the amount of packaging produced and the amount going to landfill.”

Magistrates were told that for each year of not being in a scheme there were three offences: not being registered, failing to recover and recycle packaging and not providing a record of recycling. 

The regulations apply to any company which handles in excess of 50 tonnes of packaging a year and has an annual turnover of more than £2m.

In mitigation, Mr Adam Pearson, barrister, representing the company said the company had joined a scheme as soon as they became aware of the regulations.  He said this was not a flagrant disregard of the regulations or a deliberate act.

He asked the court to consider a further 12 offences for 2003-2006.

After the hearing Jeremy Hay said:  

“Packaging regulations are designed to prevent today’s packaging becoming tomorrows landfill.

“This is the second company in a matter of weeks which has received a criminal conviction and been fined for failing to comply with the packaging regulations despite complying with another piece of "producer responsibility" legislation, the WEEE Regulations.

“I would urge all companies who have registered as a producer whether it be for packaging, WEEE or batteries to consider whether they may be obligated under other producer responsibility legislation.  There is plenty of helpful advice and guidance on the Agency's website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or www.netregs.gov.uk

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