Several companies have donated to environmental causes in the first half of 2017 for breaching producer responsibility rules, including a £650,000 payout by supermarket chain Costcutter.
Costcutter, which has around 1,700 stores across the UK, was one of 24 companies that failed to take reasonable steps to recover and recycle packaging waste as required by Producer Responsibility Obligations.
Any company with a turnover of £2 million or more that handles at least 50 tonnes of packaging materials a year - whether as a manufacturer, packer, distributor or seller - has a responsibility to take steps to ensure the recovery of its waste at end-of-life.
Instead of pursuing prosecution for breaching regulations, charitable donations are accepted by the Environment Agency to allow offending companies to remediate any environmental damage they may have caused.
The money can then be spent by local groups on projects that make a direct positive impact on the environment.
Costcutter’s £650,000 donation will go to resource efficiency charity WRAP and was by far the largest sanction accepted by the Environment Agency, with other household names such as Ecover and ASOS also making donations.
Many companies are often not aware that they have breached rules, especially with responsibilities around the recovery and recycling of packaging.
For example, Stockport-based Resin Surfaces Ltd, which has made great strides in reducing its environmental impact and developing green products, was not aware it had breached any rules and has donated £9,423 to the Lancashire Wildlife Trust in response.
The 24 civil sanctions accepted in the first of half of 2017 follow 13 in the six months previous from August 2016 to January 2017.
In a statement released alongside the 2016/17 sanctions, the Environment Agency said: “All companies producing packaging have a responsibility to recycle or pay for recycling to compensate, and failure to follow packaging regulations will result in enforcement action and financial penalties.”