Awareness of EU law essential, firms warned

25 April 2007
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26 April 2007 | Rebecca Ellinor

Companies are flouting European environmental legislation because they are unaware of it.

But ignorance is not an excuse and firms caught flouting the rules face fines, warns Leigh Holloway, director of eco3 ecodesign and environmental consultancy. He claims he frequently comes across organisations with no knowledge of new and existing laws.

He was addressing delegates attending the third annual CIPS Construction Procurement Group conference in Birmingham yesterday, which focused on sustainability.

Holloway said the environment is one of the fastest moving sectors in terms of EU law: "We are gradually moving from legislation on process control towards legislation on product responsibility, which includes buildings and the products used in them."

He said one particular law that continues to land companies in court concerns packaging regulations. These apply to all businesses with a turnover of £2 million that handle 50 tonnes of packaging a year. "They have to register with the Environment Agency and pay a fee," Holloway added. "It's been in 10 years and people still don't know about it. If you don't register it's a criminal offence."

He said the environmental issues under the spotlight include water, waste, energy, electrical and electronic products, chemicals, transport, materials recycling and energy-using products.

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