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Waste Regulations: prosecution for non-compliance

25th August 2015

Melanie Harper

An online trading company, Babz Media Limited, has been fined £45,000 for non-compliance with the Packaging, Batteries and WEEE Regulations.

On the 6 August 2015, the company pleaded guilty to failing to register with the Environment Agency and a producer compliance scheme to ensure compliance with all three waste regulations. The details of the court case have been released by the Environment Agency. Babz Media also pleaded guilty to avoiding the cost of financing the collection and recycling of packaging, electrical equipment and batteries between 2011 and 2014.

Prosecution

The company were ordered to pay a total of £45,000 in fines as well as £8,724.98 to the Environment Agency to cover avoided registration fees and prosecution costs. This is the first time that a company has been prosecuted for failing to comply with all three waste regulations. It is also the first time that a company has been prosecuted in the UK for breach of the batteries regulations.

UK Waste Regulations

It was noted that in 2014, Babz Media had a turnover of £19 million and stocked more than 2,000 household brands and which were supplied in bulk to trade. The EA revealed that company were obligated to pay for the cost of recycling 76 tonnes of packaging waste in 2013. THE PACKAGING REGULATIONS: A company will be obligated by the Packaging Regulations if they have a turnover of over £2million and handle over 50 tonnes of packaging annually. Read more here.

It was also revealed in court that Babz Media had imported 188 tonnes of electrical equipment in 2012 and 2013 and 163.7 tonnes of batteries from Europe for sale in the UK.

THE WEEE REGULATIONS: A company will be likely obligated by the WEEE Regulations if they sell, import, manufacture are the brand name owner of electrical or electronic equipment (EEE). Find out more here.

THE BATTERIES REGULATIONS: Anyone who sells, imports, manufactures or are the brand name owner of batteries will likely be obligated by the Batteries Regulations. Find out more here.

The court heard that the company had been obligated by all three waste regulations since 2011 but had failed to ensure compliance with them until 2014.

The Environment Agency

Hannah Wooldridge, senior Environment Agency officer commented on the case: “This case shows that businesses must consider all aspects of regulation, and that environmental aspects are an important part of due diligence at all times.  These regulations can affect all types of business no matter the method of selling. Online trading does not excuse companies from being compliant with the law. “’This company didn’t meet their legal obligations through ignorance after starting trading, they remained non-compliant for over three years and that impacted others in the market due to the commercial advantage they had.” “The regulations are there to increase recycling of valuable resources, support the recycling industry and reduce the use of packaging, WEEE and batteries in the first place. We will take robust action where breaches occur – online or otherwise. This is a substantial fine reflecting the seriousness of the case and Babz are the first producer to be prosecuted in England across all three producer responsibility regimes.” The early guilty plea and Babz Media's co-operation with the Environment Agency was noted during the case, but the Environment Agency said that they had been careless in not being aware of its obligations to register and finance the collection and recycling of waste it was responsible for.

Ensuring compliance

Comply Direct make sure that ensuring compliance with the waste regulations is as simple and as hassle-free as possible. We have numerous resources on our website which make the Packaging, WEEE and Batteries regulations easier to understand, check out our service pages to find out more. 

We can also offer bespoke training packages tailored to reflect the needs of your business. Alternatively, you can check out the regulations on the .gov website to find out how your business could be affected.

Comply Direct have a dedicated team of compliance experts and are always happy to help. If you think you may be affected by any of the waste regulations, or you are worried you have been non-compliant in the past then don't wait until it's too late - please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our compliance experts today.