Woodland Trust

Enforced undertakings encourage compliance

Nature trusts and charities have benefited from donations made by companies in England that breached packaging regulations between January and July 2016. The report issued last month publishes a list of businesses that have attracted civil sanctions for environmental offences under the 2010 Environmental Civil Sanctions Order (England). Thirteen companies were issued penalties in the form of environmental undertakings, all for failing to register and failure to take reasonable steps to recover and recycle packaging waste. All have subsequently been required to register with a compliance scheme or the agency direct, with several businesses compelled to take further measures such as revised methodology and procedures.

Nature charities benefit

Since 2011 the Environment Agency in England & Wales has attempted to tackle waste packaging non-compliance by using powers that allows it to issue environmental undertakings such as registration and revised procedures, as well as facilitate voluntary donations to environmental causes instead of penalties or fines. The contributions are seen as making reparation to the environment for waste packaging transgressions and are required to secure an equivalent benefit or improvement. Over £300,000 has been secured from businesses because of non-compliance during the first half of this year and a range of environmental bodies have benefited. These include the Westcountry Rivers Trust, the British Beekeepers Association, the Marine Conservation Society and a selection of Wildlife Trusts, with almost half going to the Woodland Trust.

Environmental undertakings and contributions to nature charities are seen as a quicker and more effective resolution than court proceedings and fines. The Environment Agency believes that the process promotes responsible practice by waste packaging producers by encouraging them to engage with environmental issues within the local community.  

Scottish powers

New powers in line with England and Wales were made available to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) this year (June 2016) that again aim to tackle non-compliance quickly and without recourse to court proceedings. SEPA says that the intention is to "achieve restoration of any harm caused and to change behaviour to prevent future offending or harm".


Environment agency objectives;

  • Stop practices causing environmental damage.
  • Achieve reparation and restoration.
  • Change attitudes and behaviour.
  • Prevent further environmental harm.