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Packaging audit

Packaging companies to begin undergoing checks

Tarmo Rahkama Tarmo Rahkama

Packaging undertakings who have not managed to have their packaging report audited may, in the worst case, face a stiff fine for non-compliance. There may be several hundred such companies.

The packaging audit obligation has been in force for two years now. During this time, the accounting procedures and preparation of packaging reports have improved. Many businesses have thus far not audited their packaging reports. Over 3,000 companies had a packaging audit obligation for the packaging reports during the calendar year. This also meant an increase in auditors’ workload, as additional companies with an auditing obligation accrued – because the packaging reports of many companies had to be audited in a short space of time, not all were audited by the deadline. In addition, many packaging companies had problems complying with the auditing obligation because their packaging records were deficient and they needed to develop additional methodology.

The Packaging Act amendment that entered into force in January 2016 meant a 2/3rd decrease in the number of companies subject to the audit obligation because the audit obligation thresholds were raised. The audit obligation set forth in legislation applied to companies with more than 5 tonnes of packaging on goods brought to market.

Environmental Inspectorate launches inspections

Besides the auditor, data is checked by the Environmental Inspectorate, which performs state oversight. In autumn 2015, they sent a notification letter to companies that had not yet performed their auditing obligation. The letter was received by close to 600 companies, over half of which had by then completed the necessary activities in connection with auditing their report. The rest provided confirmation that they would meet their obligation. The Environmental Inspectorate will now start to verify this, following reports prepared regarding the 2015 calendar year being entered into the Packaging Register. The deadline for submission of packaging reports was 1 September 2016.

Fine of up to 32,000 euros

It should be noted here that the previous law invited different interpretation of various provisions and made it impossible to refer unequivocally to specific violations. After a mid-2014 amendment in the Packaging Act, the new obligations and requirements are more clearly defined, which allow violations to be pinpointed as well and sanctions to be imposed. The list of supervision measures was supplemented and the fines were increased tenfold. That means that the maximum fine level is now at 32,000 euros, up from 3,200 euros.

What does a packaging company have to do?

From the standpoint of the packaging company, it is important to make sure that the accounting is maintained on different categories of packaging in use in everyday business activity in a manner ensuring that the data are properly stated in packaging reports. An audit must be ordered for packaging reports also if the threshold stipulated in legislation has been met. If the accounting methods and principles for packaging are not in place, there may be difficulties in verifying the data in the packaging report, which could in turn lead to sanctions. Thus:

  • the packaging company (legal person who in the course of its activity packages the goods, transports or sells packaged goods) must keep records of the different categories of the packaging;
  • the packaging company must prepare a packaging report and submit it to the packaging register and/or recovery organisation (this obligation applies to packaging companies who introduce more than 100 kg of plastic packaging into circulation per year and whose mass of packaging composed of other materials exceeds 200 kg per year);
  • all packaging companies had to audit their packaging report for 2014; there are companies who have not yet done so;

the 2015 packaging report had to be audited by packaging companies who brought to market packaged goods with a packaging mass of over 5 tonnes per year; there are companies who have not yet done so.