Retailers agree civil sanction following recycling error

The Environment Agency (EA) has accepted enforcement undertaking offers from four high street chains totalling £26,000 plus costs, after the retailers failed to comply with packaging waste regulations.

Zara Home at Briggate LeedsZara Home UK, Bershka UK, Pull and Bear UK and Massimo Dutti UK broke rules to ensure that businesses fund the recycling of the packaging waste that they place on the market.

Zara also avoided paying a charge based on how much packaging the company got through in the course of its business in the same period, between 2010 and 2015.

All four companies are owned by the world’s largest apparel retailer, Inditex, who agreed to pay the £26,000 in penalties.

According to an EA officer, businesses producing more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year and with a turnover of over £2 million must register with the Environment Agency or a packaging compliance scheme and meet their responsibilities for recycling waste packaging.

As part of the civil sanction enforced by the Environment Agency, the four companies have put in additional compliance measures and are making financial contributions to two environmental charities.

Keep Britain Tidy will receive £13,000 towards its EcoSchools project, which focuses on waste education, whilst The Marine Conservation Society will also receive £13,000 towards its Beachwatch Programme, which supports litter picking on UK beaches.

EA officer Jonathan Coldicott added: “The companies also agreed to take measures to ensure they comply with their packaging waste responsibilities in the future.

“As well as the charitable contributions, they paid the EA’s full costs. We’re satisfied that they won’t repeat their mistakes again.”

The Environment Agency states it uses enforcement undertakings for suitable cases and reserves prosecution for cases where evidence shows serious environmental harm.

According to the latest data from the Environment Agency, 48 enforcement undertakings were completed by businesses in 2019, which saw environmental groups or projects receive a record £4.8 million from environmental penalties, more than double the £2.1 million received in 2018.