Top department stores fined for packaging offences

Exclusive department stores Liberty and Heal's were both convicted of offences under the packaging waste regime in May. Liberty was fined £4,000 for allowing its registration to lapse following its takeover by another company. Heal's escaped with a £2,000 fine for failing to register for the first four years of the packaging regime.

Liberty had registered with the Biffpack compliance scheme for the first two years of the packaging regime - 1998 and 1999.

In June 2000, the store was taken over by Marylebone Warwick Balfour and, despite Biffpack's warnings, failed to register for 2000 and 2001. In doing so it saved around £4,250, according to the Environment Agency's estimates.

It was only when the company was reminded again by its auditors in 2001 that it re-registered, joining another compliance scheme, Valpak, in 2002.

Appearing before Marylebone magistrates on 17 May, Liberty was fined £2,000 for each of two offences of failing to register and failing to take steps to recycle and recover packaging waste in 2001, contrary to the 1997 packaging waste regulations. Charges in relation to 2000 were taken into consideration. The firm was also ordered to pay £1,789 costs.

In circumstances similar to those involving Liberty, Heal's contacted the Agency in April 2002 after its auditors told the company that it should have been registered under the packaging regime since 1998. The company then joined the Wastepack compliance scheme for 2002 and told the Agency it had not been registered.

On 11 May, Heal & Son was fined £2,000 with £1,869 costs by Highbury Corner magistrates for failing to register for 2001, contrary to the 1997 regulations. It also pleaded guilty to failing to recycle and recover packaging waste, but was given an absolute discharge because it had taken steps to do so of its own accord.