Fish importer fined over packaging offence –

Fish importer fined over packaging offence Published:  03 September, 2007

The company was fined at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court

FISH importer and distributor Polarfrost Seafoods Ltd has been fined £21,000 and ordered to pay £2,644 costs at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court for failing its environmental duty for at least two years.

The court was told that although the company was first approached in December 2005, it was not until February 2007 that company representatives provided further details and agreed to an interview with the Environment Agency about breaches of packaging regulations.

The company imports and distributes frozen sea fish from its premises in Grimsby and is a subsidiary of Young’s Bluecrest Seafood Ltd.

Group Packaging Manager for Young’s, Mr Duncan Cook, said Polarfrost’s obligations had been overlooked when Young’s bought the company in 2001 because the two companies were run with different administration systems.

As a company which handles more than 300 tonnes of packaging and has a turnover of more than £2 million per year, Polarfrost should have been recycling since at least 2001 but had failed to do so.

Although companies are obliged to recycle under packaging regulations they are not required to physically recover and recycle the packaging themselves. There are systems which allow the businesses to pay other organisations to do the recycling on their behalf. For each year that a company qualifies it has to do three things:

1. Register with either the Agency direct or join a compliance scheme which registers with the Agency;

2. Recover and recycle specific tonnages of packaging waste based on amount handled the previous year; and

3. Provide the Agency with evidence that those specific targets have been complied with.

Polarfrost pleaded guilty to not complying in 2004 and 2005 and asked for a further two years of non-compliance to be taken into consideration by magistrates.

The European Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste requires member states to recover packaging waste with the aim of reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

After the hearing, investigating Environment Officer John Clifton said: “For Polarfrost, this is an example of where an obligated business has relied upon their parent holding company to do compliance submissions (group registration). However, it seems in this case, a change of the ownership parent caused a failing in this arrangement and subsequent missed registrations.

“Subsidiaries in a UK group have the option of making their own compliance arrangement or as part of a parent company registration. Any subsidiaries that ‘handle’ packaging also need to beware that they may be obligated even if they themselves are below the threshold levels. This is because they may be part of a group that collectively is above thresholds, therefore all are legally compelled.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.