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Cosmetics company hit out at EA's "shaming" policy

High street cosmetics company Lush has accused the Environment Agency (EA) of having a prosecuting culture, and being difficult to work with.

The comments come after the manufacturing arm of Lush was taken to court by the EA and ordered to pay £3,688 last month for failing to register with the EA and supplying certificates to prove it recovered and recycled its waste packaging.

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997, businesses with an annual turnover of more than £2 million and who handle over 50 tonnes of packaging are required to register with the EA, and demonstrate compliance with the regulations.

Lush pleaded guilty to four offences under the Packaging Waste regulations, and was ordered to pay £1,900 in missed registration fees for 2002 and 2003 and £1,788 in costs.

According to Lush director Karl Bygrave the company was unaware of the regulations until it was contacted by the EA in 2004. Bygrave said: “As soon as we realised there was something we hadn’t done, we put it right. There was no intention to avoid anything.”

He added that it was difficult keeping track of all the regulations, and that it was “one piece of legislation among 17,000 others”.

Bygrave said Lush had attempted to settle the situation earlier, but the EA seemed to have a “policy of prosecuting, come what may.”

He continued: “Usually other government departments are very helpful – you can discuss and work with them. With the EA there didn’t seem to be this same cooperative attitude. The way it deals with these things is quite aggressive.”

Lush prides itself on its environmental values: trying not to create packaging in the first place, and reusing where possible. It sets itself a recycling target of 85% and Bygrave said “complied with the regulations while not complying.”

He feels the EA should move away from its “shaming mindset” and focus on the positives, highlighting the good environmental work that companies are doing.

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