Businesses urged to make sure they understand packaging obligations after £34,000 fine

    29 Oct 2010

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    A Nottingham-based importer and wholesaler of bicycles has been fined £34,000 for failing to recycle packaging.

    The company, Universal Cycles Ltd, pleaded guilty this week at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court to 34 charges under the Packaging Regulations. In addition, the company was ordered to pay £4,394 in costs, along with £9,140 in compensation.

    The company should have been registered with the Environment Agency and was obliged to recover and recycle a portion of its packaging waste, as well as filing a certificate at the end of each year to confirm it had met these obligations.

    However, the company did not register with a compliance scheme until 2009.

    The Court heard a routine check by the Environment Agency in November 2009 established that the company should have been registered in previous years.

    Jill Crawford, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said the company’s explanation for failing to comply with the Packaging Waste Regulations was that it was 'unaware' that it was an obligated company under the Regulations.

    By failing to register, the company had avoided fees and other costs of £47,941.

    Producer responsibility is an extension of the 'polluter pays' principle. The Regulations apply to companies which:

    • manufacture or fill packaging, or sell or import packaged goods;
    • have an annual turnover exceeding £2m; and
    • handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year.

    Speaking after the case, a spokesperson for the Environment Agency said:

    “Packaging Regulations are designed to reduce the amount of packaging used by businesses and increase the amount of packaging waste recycled. This case highlights what businesses need to consider if they are obligated under the Packaging Regulations.”

    In mitigation, the Court heard that the company had entered an early guilty and had cooperated with the investigation. In addition, the company is now fully compliant.

    The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 and 2005, and the Environment Act 1995.


    Business' waste packaging responsibilities are explained in detail in the newly published Workplace Law Health and Safety, Premises and Environment Handbook 2011.

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