Monday, 29 March 2010

Pack products with care

Shropshire manufacturers are being advised to ensure they don’t fall foul of environmental legislation surrounding packaging of their products.

“The Government is keen to promote how keen it is on green issues, but it doesn’t make quite so much noise about how much money it makes out of its environmental laws,” said Telford lawyer Graham Davies.

Graham, who is our Senior Partner, said: “Its favourite money maker – the speed camera of the environmental world – is a piece of legislation known as the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations.

“The Environment Agency is actively searching for businesses which are not registered with PROR, or another packaging compliance scheme. And when it does prosecute, it goes for as much money as possible.”

The regulations, described by Graham as “really just a paper exercise”, apply to larger firms handling over 50 tonnes of packaging. They challenge businesses to provide evidence of paying for the recovery and recycling of a specified proportion of packaging waste including wood, aluminium, steel, cardboard and plastic.

Graham said two of the most recent businesses to be prosecuted for non-compliance had been fined £54,000 and £62,248, and landed with thousands of pounds in legal costs.

“Both firms stated that they did not know the regulations applied to them, but clearly the court did not deem this as a defence. The Environment Agency now has teams which monitor businesses, and any business that the inspectors feel PROR apply to, but which hasn’t taken steps towards compliance, will receive a letter.

“If you are unfortunate enough to get one of these letters, don’t ignore it. It means you’ve already been caught – failure to meet with the Agency’s demands will only make things worse.”