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Packaging penalties ‘should be spent on sector’

Industry figures have suggested that more money from breaches of packaging recycling regulations should go back into the sector.

Packaging producers have stumped up more than £500,000 to compensate for breaches of waste regulations in the past six months, according to Environment Agency (EA) figures.

Details of sanctions administered between 1 August 2016 and 27 January 2017 showed that 13 companies donated money to charity and put in place remedial measures to rectify compliance failures.

Olive oil company Filippo Berio gave the largest amount – £250,000 – to the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust after failing to register with a compliance scheme and not taking reasonable steps to recycle its packaging.

It has now registered with the Ecosurety compliance scheme, introduced new systems and staff training.

Pharmaceutical firm Sandoz donated £120,000 to the Surrey Wildlife Trust and signed up to Valpak’s scheme.

Industry figures have commented on the fact that none of these sanctions for packaging went to recycling-related causes.

On social media, Steve Lee, director general of Resources & Waste UK, said it would be good to see the money support compliance through projects such as the ’Right Waste Right Place’ campaign.

360 Environmental director Phil Conran replied: “Quite agree: £539,000 from packaging to nature trusts? Could be used for litter campaigns, recycling education etc.”

To this, Lee said: “This is money paid by businesses which have failed to comply with waste law. Seems wrong not to use it to support general compliance by others.”

The latest EA figures are higher than the previous six months, when £300,000 was paid out for breaches of waste regulations.

All are dwarfed by a record £415,000 paid by baby food and drinks producer HIPP UK in 2015 to the Woodland Trust, the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The penalties were administered in the form of enforcement undertakings, which are civil sanctions that allow the offenders to set out how they propose to put the matter right.

If the EA agrees, the undertaking becomes a legally binding voluntary agreement.

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