On 22 June, the Environment Agency published a list of the enforcement undertakings it accepted between 1 January 2022 and 31 May 2022 for regulation breaches. In total, charities received £714,274. Enforcement undertakings are used as part of the Agency’s sanctions process for breaches of regulations.
NCR Corporation manufactures self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, ATMs, cheque processing systems and barcode scanners. It describes itself as “the world’s enterprise technology leader for restaurants, retailers and banks”.
One of its UK subsidiaries, NCR Ltd, failed to register under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations of 2007 and to “take reasonable steps to recover and recycle packaging waste” from 1997 to 2015. As such, it contributed £35,354 to The Woodland Trust.
Another subsidiary, NCR Financial Solutions Group Ltd, was found not to have complied with the same regulations for the same reasons between 2010 and 2017. It donated £18,853 to the charity.
Elsewhere, luxury leather goods designer and retailer Aspinal of London Ltd contributed £3,697 to London Wildlife Trust. It too was found not have complied with packaging regulations between 2016 and 2018.
P & D Material Recovery Ltd contributed enforcement undertakings for breaching the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations of 2007. For exporting waste to “economic co-operation and development countries” from Chatham Dockyard, Gillingham, in March 2019 without complying with Regulation 24(2) of Article 38(1) of the regulations, the company donated £13,000 to the Sandwich Bay Observatory Trust.
Several companies paid enforcement undertakings for breaching regulations relating to the Environmental Permitting Regulations of 2016. In total, these companies donated £643,372 to charity.
For a breach relating to the landspreading of waste on agricultural land across County Durham and Teesside between March 2016 and July 2017, South Witham-based Whites Recycling Ltd contributed £100,000 to the Tees Rivers Charitable Trust.
Fernbrook Bio Ltd donated £18,500 to the Rockingham Forest Trust for the unauthorised storage of waste at the Rothwell Lodge anaerobic digestion facility in Kettering between July and August 2018.
Thorburn Bros Ltd contributed £9,872 to the Northumberland Wildlife Trust for the unauthorised transfer of waste on land at Brinkburn New Houses Farm, Longframlington, between May and June 2018.
When found to be in breach of regulations – often by not signing up to a packaging waste compliance scheme – a company proposes improvements to its operations and makes an offer to the Environment Agency as ‘compensation’.
The undertakings scheme allows businesses to avoid possible court action and instead make voluntary donations if they have breached, or appear likely to have breached, environmental regulations. These donations go to various charities chosen by those who do not uphold the obligations.
Some within the waste sector have expressed concerns that money paid for recycling breaches goes to charities which, while good causes, are not relevant to recycling.
The Agency says it does not control which charity receives the money, but several offers it has accepted have included payments to raise awareness in schools of the environmental damage caused by packaging waste (see letsrecycle.com story).