Businesses risk £3m fines for incorrect lamp disposal

Harsher penalties are being introduced for those who dispose of mercury-containing fluorescent lamps unsafely.

The Sentencing Council for England and Wales has released new guidelines advising judges to hand down harsher sentences to individuals and companies convicted of environmental crimes, such as disposing of lamps incorrectly. The guidelines will come into force on 1 July.

It is the first time a guideline has been produced for these types of offences, and is likely to lead to larger fines for serious offenders.

Companies that knowingly break the law will face much stiffer penalties than those who do so in spite of taking all appropriate due diligence.

The harshest fines of up to £3 million are recommended for large businesses that knowingly contravene the law. Individuals could face jail terms of up to three years.

The guideline covers a variety of offences related to the disposal of waste covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

It also covers waste handling or disposal offences where a company or individuals cause pollution or harm to people’s health, or risk doing so.

Recolight chief executive Nigel Harvey said: ‘The new guidelines apply the highest offence category to hazardous chemicals. Given that waste fluorescent lamps are classified as hazardous, this means that all those collecting or transporting waste lamps should double check that they are following legal requirements.

‘More importantly, the risks to any individuals or companies who knowingly fly tip or dispose of waste lamps inappropriately are now much higher.’