The Environment Agency monitors businesses to ensure that:
- packaging producers in England contribute to the recovery and recycling targets of the European packaging directive
- register of all compulsory producers
- producer compliance systems fulfill their statutory obligations on behalf of member producers
- they provide accurate data on packaging handled, recovered and recycled in the UK
- there is precise data on registered producers
- processing, recovery and export operators comply with the approval conditions
- packaging waste is recycled and recovered according to the standards of the directive
- waste packaging is not transported illegally
Our compliance activities include:
- documentary assessments and reviews
- validation checks on data submissions
- analysis of data trends, search for fraudulent behavior, errors and anomalies
- site visits
The revenues from packaging costs finance the majority of our compliance work with:
- producer compliance regimes
- approved reprocessors
- accredited exporters
We are allocating this funding, along with tax revenues from other producer responsibility regimes, to our national producer responsibility team.
In March 2019, we restructured the way we work to meet the demands of producer responsibility. We have moved to a nationally managed single delivery approach. This left us with a few vacancies, but we have now recruited 14 new agents. They start in February 2020. These agents will need to undergo a training program before they can monitor operators. Therefore, this resource will not be immediately available for site audits.
The revenues from packaging costs do not finance our:
- inspections of green list waste exports
- compliance with the Regulation on the cross-border transport of waste
- surveys of unregistered packaging producers (called “freeriders”)
We pay for these activities with public funds.
The Environment Agency will continue to identify packaging producers who are not registered (freeriders). We will investigate any freeriders that are reported to us. We will use a risk-based approach focusing on the operators with the greatest impact on the environment. We will use various means to bring non-conformers into compliance.
We also fund a specialized waste regime investigation team to support our officers in their investigations and to direct serious and significant cases.
Where appropriate, we will use our enforcement powers and tools in accordance with the Environment Agency’s enforcement and sanctions policy.
2. Evaluation, follow-up and validation of submissions
- quarterly data returns
The Environment Agency performs a number of monitoring activities when processing registrations from both:
- direct registrants
- producers adhering to schemes
We monitor the information and data submitted by all (nearly 7,000) registered producers, including comparing data submissions with those from previous years.
In April of each year, after the registration deadline, we identify producers who have not re-registered. We contact them for:
- know why they did not re-register
- bring them into conformity if necessary
In some cases, we work with compliance programs to achieve this. However, when producers do not register or tell us their status, we will investigate them as freeriders.
At the accreditation application stage, we assess the complete application as well as the submitted sampling and inspection plans. We have to make sure they are sturdy and reliable. After granting accreditation, we will monitor sampling and inspection plans during on-site inspections and desk reviews. We will also verify other supporting documents and activities.
We will send reprocessors and accredited exporters a notice of suspension if they do not submit a quarterly data report. We can follow up on performance improvement requirements or take enforcement action as needed. We may also suspend or cancel accreditation if other accreditation conditions are not met.
3. Surveillance systems, direct registrants and accredited operators
Compliance programs for licensed producers must register their program annually. We perform a detailed compliance assessment of each registration.
We monitor producer compliance programs on a quarterly basis to verify progress in meeting their members’ obligations – for example by verifying procurement models for:
- packaging recycling notes (PRN)
- recycling notes for the export of packaging (PERN)
We do this to manage the risk of the UK failing to meet national and EU targets. We check more frequently towards the end of the compliance year. If necessary, we will highlight any issues we have with the program through phone or email discussions.
Towards the end of the compliance period, we check whether producers directly registered with us have fulfilled their obligations. We will contact the producers if there is a problem. We are sending reminders and will also verify that the obligated parties are:
- to acquire PRN Where PERN
- accepting PRN
- submit certificates of conformity
We contact producers when we see a risk of non-compliance, for example if they have not acquired any PRN.
4. Compliance monitoring
Using a risk-based approach, we conduct compliance monitoring of:
- packaging producers
- conformity diagrams
- approved reprocessors
- accredited exporters
For calendar year 2020, we plan to perform 10 on-site inspections of approved compliance programs. This is in addition to our ongoing, desktop-based, all-program compliance assessments.
We plan to perform a minimum of 110 inspections of accredited operator sites, visiting all operators identified as high risk (sites categorized in red and amber). These site inspections will be guided by our risk profiling assessments. We can visit more sites if we feel it is necessary. We will decide according to the risk of the operator.
We may perform more than one site inspection on certain operators if our information, or our risk assessment, tells us it is necessary. Site inspections can be a pre-arranged or unannounced visit. Some sites can accommodate both types.
5. Summary of planned compliance activities
We will do it:
- review and validate all direct listing requests so that national publications contain accurate data
- investigate all reported freeriders to increase producer registrations – this to reduce non-compliance and ensure a level playing field for all producers
- contact all producers who do not re-register (deposits) to confirm that they are no longer a producer, or to bring them back into compliance
- make 83 producer site visits based on the risk we assess in terms of scale, complexity, late registration and data assessment – our goal is to validate data submissions or request that the data be resubmitted
- contact all direct reporting companies at risk of non-compliance – to ensure they meet their recovery and recycling obligations and submit their certificate of compliance
Producer compliance regimes
We will perform basic checks on all registration datasets so that national publications contain accurate data.
To identify and resolve potential non-conformities, we will use documentary surveillance to:
- compliance assess all system records
- monitor all producer compliance programs on a quarterly basis and discuss their compliance position
- evaluate all ad hoc Environment Agency model submissions (around 200)
- assess the declaration of conformity for all producer compliance programs
We will perform 10 site inspections to verify that the approval conditions have been met and to identify and resolve any failures.
We will do it:
- determine all requests (and sampling and inspection plans) within the legal 12-week deadline and only accredit those that fully meet regulatory requirements
- perform desk reviews of all quarterly data returns and correct any anomalies identified
- perform a minimum of 110 site inspections, visit all red and orange sites (based on our risk profile) to verify compliance with accreditation conditions, and use improvement, enforcement, or two, to remedy any failure
We reserve the right to refocus our efforts and priorities based on emerging threats throughout a year.