EA to packaging firms: comply with recovery and recycling directives, or face “enforcement action”

The Environment Agency (EA) is reminding packaging firms of their obligation to contribute to EU Packaging Directives that track and ensure packaging waste is managed properly.

Our officers carry out site inspections, data audits and other monitoring activities, and enforcement action is taken against those not following the rules.

During 2019, the Environment Agency carried out compliance monitoring of 288 people involved in packaging production – well above the agency’s annual target of 170 – and subsequently suspended 18 accredited companies for breaking the rules. Two firms lost their accreditations and 21 enforcement undertakings were agreed, resulting in financial contributions totalling £520,087 being made to environmental projects.

Since the introduction of civil sanctions for packaging regulations in 2011, the Environment Agency has accepted 285 enforcement undertakings worth more than £6 million – money which has directly helped environmental charities.

Malcolm Lythgo, Head of waste regulation at the Environment Agency, said: “Our investigation work in 2019 showed that while most firms abide by the rules and contribute to recovery and recycling of packaging waste, there are still operators out there who flout the law.

“Our message to companies is that they should ensure that waste packaging is properly recycled and not directed through illegal routes – which ultimately harms the environment.”

Provisional figures indicate that in 2019 the reported UK packaging recovery rate was 73.76%, of which 68.42% was reported as being recycled. These recovery and recycling rates exceed the European Union Directive targets of 60% recovery and 55% recycling.

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