Western Wines has been handed a record fine of £225,000 for failing to pay for the recovery and recyling of packaging over a three year period.
The fine - the highest given so far for packaging offences - was handed out at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Jan 22 after the company pleaded guilty to nine charges relating to Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations.
Under the regulations, any company that uses at least 50 tonnes of packaging each year to sell their products must contribute towards UK recycling.
The court heard from the Environment Agency that the company, now owned by Constellation Europe, had not been registered in 2003, 2004 or 2005 and as a result had avoided registration fees of £2,486 and recovery/recycling costs of £185,059.
A response to a questionnaire submitted to the Environment Agency showed that the importer had overlooked its legal obligations during those years due to rapid changes in the business.
Speaking after the case, Environment Agency officer David Lloyd officer said: The aim of these regulations is to make businesses take responsibility for the packaging used in their operations and reduce the amount of packaging waste going to landfill. This is becoming increasingly important as landfill capacity is stretched to the limit.”
The Telford-based company also had to pay costs of more than £3,000 and £2,486 compensation to the Environment Agency.
In mitigation, the company said it had co-operated fully with the Environment Agency and was now fully compliant with the law.