First UK prosecution under both packaging and WEEE laws

A hairdresser supplier has the dubious honour of becoming the first firm to fall foul of two new waste laws, according to the Environment Agency (EA).

The EA said Aston and Fincher Ltd of Pavilion Drive, Birmingham, was the first prosecution of a business for offences under both the packaging regulations and the producer responsibility legislation for electrical equipment.

By admitting 31 charges on Friday (September 3) the firm, a wholesaler of hairdressing supplies operating from 26 warehouse sites in the UK, admitted it had avoided paying approximately £10,900 in charges.

The rules are part of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive and the company avoided paying £445 plus unknown costs of financing the recovery and recycling of equipment for which they would have been responsible in 2008.

Aston and Fincher was fined £650 for each offence (a total of £20,150). It was also ordered to pay compensation of £7,135 to the EA for loss of registration fees, costs of £3,605.11 and a victim surcharge of £15.

The EA investigations found Aston and Fincher had committed offences in each year from 2001 to 2008.

The company also imported a range of electrical items into the UK, and failed to meet their obligations under the WEEE Regulations.

This legislation came into force in 2007, and this is the first case of prosecution of a producer of electrical equipment under these regulations.

Speaking after the case Hannah Wooldridge, an EA officer leading in the investigation, said “This is the first prosecution of a business for offences under both the Packaging regulations and the similar producer responsibility legislation for electrical equipment.

“It should send a strong message out to all companies who do have producer responsibility obligations to ensure that they comply with the legal requirements placed on them.

“These regulations do not set out to criminalise companies who don’t comply, they are about making all producers responsible for their impact on the environment, and helping them to reduce it wherever possible.

In mitigation, the company secretary, David Winnington, said it was not a deliberate intention to evade the regulations. The company was simply not aware of them.

He said the business was now fully compliant with both regulations and they pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.

Luke Walsh

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