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Nut importer Besana feels the crunch

Besana UK Limited was fined £14,500 yesterday (24 November) at Cheltenham Magistrates Court after failing to comply with the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997, 2005 and 2007. In addition, the court awarded £8,354 to the Environment Agency in compensation for unpaid registration fees as well as costs of £2778 bringing the total to £25,632.

Besana UK Limited, of Rissington Business Park, Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to failing to register with the Environment Agency as a producer of packaging waste, and for failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste between 1997 – 2006.

Besana UK Limited, an Italian-owned company, imports nuts and dried fruits into the UK for the retail market. The nature of its business means that Besana UK Ltd handles mainly paper and plastics.

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, all businesses with an annual turnover in excess of £2 million and which handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging per annum must be registered with the Environment Agency or a recognised compliance scheme. Registration and submission of data is required in each subsequent year. The obligated businesses must also provide evidence of payment for the recovery and recycling of a specified proportion of their packaging. The types of packaging covered by this legislation are wood, glass, aluminium, steel, cardboard and plastic.

The Regulations are designed to make companies assess the amount of packaging they handle and, where possible, limit its use. For the packaging remaining, companies are expected to invest in the recycling industry by purchasing packaging recovery notes.

Details of the regulations are available in trade journals, through trade organisations and online but unfortunately, many businesses remain unaware of their responsibilities, resulting in packaging waste potentially being landfilled instead of being recycled.

The Environment Agency contacted Besana UK Ltd in 2006 and a site visit was carried out at the company's warehouses by Environment Agency officers. The company was then invited for a formal interview under caution on 1 August 2006, which was attended by the Managing Director Mr Pino Calcagni.

The company produced a summary of the packaging it handled, which was below the 50 tonne threshold and therefore it believed that the company was not obligated. This information was subsequently revealed to be incorrect.

The company registered with Budgetpack, a compliance scheme, in 2007, who carried out a full audit of the packaging handled. The data form submitted to the Environment Agency showed that the company had handled 440 tonnes of packaging in 2006. In light of this Besana UK Ltd was invited for a second formal interview on 8 August 2007.

It was discovered that since 1997 Besana UK Ltd exceeded both of the thresholds that require a company to register – including handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging, and an annual turnover of more than £5 million between 1997 and 1999, and more than £2 million from 2000 to 2006.

An estimate showed that the company had avoided costs of £19,725.98 by not registering and purchasing the correct amount of Packaging Recovery Notes.

Sue Gebbels, investigating officer for the Environment Agency said: “These regulations were introduced in 1997 and it is disappointing that there are still a number of companies who are not compliant.

The money raised from compliance with this legislation goes directly to the recycling industry and failure by this company to ensure it meets its responsibilities means that there was less investment in the recycling industry than there should have been. There is information available to businesses to ensure it meets its environmental responsibility and it is important that companies take this responsibility seriously to stop the tonnes of packaging ending up in the UK's limited landfill sites.”

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