An Environment Agency audit in 2018 uncovered an error of 99.8% in a company’s reported handling of packaging, which “reduced the pressure on wood PRNs by several thousand tonnes”.
The Agency announced this as part of its ‘annual packaging compliance monitoring and enforcement activity report’ for 2018 which was published last week.
This report “provides a statement on the actual monitoring done [of packaging compliance] and successes”.
Despite missing its targets for the number of accredited operators and compliance schemes monitored – by 6% and 17% respectively – the Agency said it was successful in other ways.
This included an audit on an accredited company which had reported handling 81,702 tonnes of packaging, resulting in an obligation cost of about £3 million in terms of the purchase of evidence.
An EA audit identified the company actually handled 217 tonnes of packaging – an error of 99.8%, this then “greatly reduced the pressure on wood PRNS and the overall market”.
Other successes included receiving a total of 23 enforcement undertakings from packaging producers in 2018, resulting in nearly £422,000 in financial contributions to environmental charities.
The Agency also exceeded its target on the monitoring of producers and people, by 87% and 17%.
Reprocessors and exporters
During 2018 the Agency said it monitored a total of 75 operators for compliance via site inspections (against a target of 80). As a result of compliance assessments, it suspended 32 accreditations and cancelled two exporter accreditations.
“This shows we’re working towards our priority of reducing fraud as well as encouraging compliance. This enforcement activity has also helped to inform decisions on applications for accreditation,” the document read.
While it is “not possible to determine the actual number of free riders”, the Agency said it adopted a new approach in 2018 which included centrally managing the process and introducing a ‘one-team approach’ – the national Producer Responsibility Regulatory Services (PRRS).
In 2018, the Agency and the PRRS contacted 54 producers and found that ten were not obligated, five were registered and eight “were obligated and in the process of registering”.