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Environment Agency a tough nut to crack

On recycling regulations.
A London-based international nut supplier Barrow, Lane and Ballard Ltd was ordered to pay £33,360 at Tower Bridge Magistrates Court today for failing to recover and recycle more than 900 tonnes of packaging waste.

On Wednesday 5 December 2007 Barrow, Lane and Ballard Ltd, of Southwark Street, SE1, London pleaded guilty to failing to register with the Environment Agency as a producer of packaging waste, and to failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste for 9 years from 1998 – 2006.

The company – which imports nuts from Vietnam, Bolivia, China, and Argentina and exports them throughout Northern Europe and North America – was fined £23,400 and ordered to pay £2,356 in costs to the Environment Agency. Magistrates also ordered compensation of £7,604 to be paid to the Environment Agency for avoided registration fees.

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, all businesses with an annual turnover in excess of £2 million that handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year, must be registered with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme. Each year, obligated businesses must also provide evidence of payment for the recovery and recycling of a specified proportion of packaging waste, including wood, aluminum, steel, cardboard and plastic.

The Regulations are designed to ensure companies assess the amount of packaging they use and, where possible, limit their consumption. For the packaging remaining, companies are expected to invest in the recycling industry. Details of the Regulations are available in trade journals, through trade organisations and online but unfortunately, many businesses remain unaware of their responsibilities.

The Environment Agency wrote to Barrow, Lane and Ballard Ltd requesting details of their packaging usage in January 2007, In February 2007 the Environment Agency received two letters from the company, the first stating that they should be registered and the second that they had joined the recycling compliance scheme Synergy Compliance. A director of Barrow, Lane & Ballard Ltd admitted the company had a turnover greater than £2 million for the years 1997-2006 and acknowledged that the company had probably handled more than 50 tonnes of packaging in each of the years.

From the figures provided it was calculated that the company has saved an estimated £ 16 997.75 in avoided of PRN's (evidence of recovery/recycling) and registration costs. As a result of the company's failure to recover and recycle an equivalent weight of packaging handled, it has impeded the UK's ability to meet the recycling targets as set by the EU. Additionally, an estimated total of 1,996 tonnes of packaging waste may not have been diverted from landfill. Of the estimated £16 997.75 saved, £9 695.75 would have directly supported the growth of the recycling industry.

Environment Officer Carol Witt said: “The money raised from compliance with this legislation goes directly to the recycling industry and the failure by this company to ensure they met their responsibilities means that there was less investment in the recycling industry than there should have been.

“There is information available to businesses to ensure they meet they environmental responsibility. It is important companies take this responsibility seriously to stop the tonnes of packaging piling up in the UK's limited landfill sites.”

From the figures provided and the audit of the company it has been calculated that the company has saved an estimated £ 9,695.75 in not purchasing PRN's (evidence of recovery/recycling) and registration fees of £7,604.

The Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations were originally implemented in 1997 as a result of the EU Packaging Directive. The regulations are designed to make companies assess the amount of packaging they use and, where possible, limit the amount used. For the packaging remaining, companies have a responsibility to invest in the recycling industry.

The amount of recovery and recycling is dependent on the type of activity the company performs on the packaging and the tonnage handled. As the majority of companies are unable to take back their packaging, a system was set up whereby they purchase Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) to the value of their obligation. The money from these PRNs/PERNs is used by the reprocessors of the packaging to improve the efficiency of their process, to expand their facilities, and assist with the funding of domestic recycling schemes, etc

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