£415k donation for packaging offence

Organic baby food company HiPP UK Ltd has agreed to pay a total of £414,960 to three environmental charities as compensation for not meeting its obligations under the Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997-2007.

The payment follows the Environment Agency’s (EA) discovery that the company had neither registered as a producer of packaging nor met its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste from 2004 to 2011.

The EA says that the compensation fee represents the largest-value enforcement undertaking ever accepted by the regulator.

Producer responsibility regulations are enforced by the EA in England using a range of sanctions, including enforcement notices, stop notices and civil sanctions.

According to the EA, when confronted with the offences HiPP UK, which has produced a range of foods for babies and toddlers since 1995, offered the EA an enforcement package. This included a donation to three environmental charities plus payment of the EA’s costs, the registration of the company as a packaging producer and the establishment of a provision that ensures that non-compliance does not reoccur. The EA accepted this offer.

The company will pay three equal annual installments to arrive at the £414,960 figure, which will be split between three charities:

  • £75,000 to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust;
  • £150,000 to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust; and
  • £189,960 to the Woodland Trust.

Commenting on the compensation package, EA Environment Officer, Heather White, said: “In any enforcement undertaking, the person or company should offer to restore or remediate the harm caused by the incident where that is possible. For producer responsibility offences, this is done by making a financial contribution to a recognised environmental charity or project to achieve environmental benefit. The offender must also demonstrate they will change their behaviour and ensure future compliance with environmental legislation.

“Civil sanctions such as these are a proportionate and cost-effective way for businesses to make amends for less serious environmental offences. Failure to comply with the enforcement undertaking may result in the person or company being prosecuted for the original offence.”

Call for change in producer responsibility

The announcement of this action comes in the same week that the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said that changes to producer responsibility legislation for packaging and batteries would be made after the results of a consultation were released this week.

The changes that Defra has pledged to introduce to legislation revolve around the simplification of reporting for obligated packaging and battery companies, including removing the need for operation plans and streamlining the signing off of information.

Further changes were suggested by respondents to the consultation, including calls to reform the UK’s packaging recovery note (PRN) system.

Learn more about the UK government’s producer responsibility regulations and the responses to the consultation on batteries and packaging.