Environment

Zara Home among high street retailers breaching UK environment rules

Zara Home is among four firms owned by the same parent company who agreed to pay more than £26,000 for not following waste packaging rules which protect the environment.

Zara Home store in Northern England

Zara Home are among the retailers in the UK who have paid out after feeling to follow environmental rules. Credit: Wikimedia Commons (Mtaylor848)

Four high street retail brands have paid out thousands to charity after failing to follow recycling regulations in the UK.

Zara Home is among four firms owned by the same parent company, Inditex, who agreed to pay more than £26,000 in financial penalties for not following waste packaging rules which protect the environment.

The company was found by the Environmental Agency to have broken rules over a five year period to 2015, failing to fund the recycling of the packaging waste that they place on the UK market.

“These are fast fashion and homeware brands, meaning that much of the products they sell will have a short lifespan and can’t be recycled,” said Sara Arnold, co-founder of anti-fast fashion group Fashion Act Now, who said she was “pleased” to see the brands “rightly paying out” for the harm they had done, but questioned whether the fines go far enough.

“Being penalised by paying out £26,000 is a drop in the ocean for these companies and won’t go far in terms of fixing the full extent of the environmental harm they cause.”

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Zara also avoided paying a charge based on how much packaging the company got through in the course of its business in the same period.

The rules apply to any company producing more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year, and with a turnover of above £2 million. Brands must register with the Environment Agency or a packaging compliance scheme and meet their responsibilities for recycling waste packaging.

Three other retailers, Bershka, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear were also found to have been in breach of these environmental protections. All four brands are owned by parent company Inditex – the biggest fashion group in the world.

The outside of a Massimo Dutti store
Massimo Dutti
Massimo Dutti and other brands owned by Inditex have paid out thousands to environmental charities. Credit: Flickr (bargainmoose).

Environment Agency officer Jonathan Coldicott said: “If companies fail to meet their obligations under environmental law, we will take action to ensure that they change their ways.”

“What we need is for ecocide, meaning the mass damage of ecosystems, to become an international crime,” said Arnold, “so that we put an end to the exploitation of nature. The fast fashion and fast furniture business models currently rely heavily on ecocidal practices.”

The companies all offered to make amends for their breaches and the environmental damage caused by putting in place additional compliance measures and making financial contributions to two environmental charities.

Keep Britain Tidy will receive £13,000 for waste education programmes, while The Marine Conservation Society will be given £13,000 to help with litter-picks on UK beaches.

Mr Coldicott added: “The companies also agreed to take measures to ensure they comply with their packaging waste responsibilities in the future.

“As well as the charitable contributions, they paid the Environment Agency’s full costs.

“We’re satisfied that they won’t repeat their mistakes again.”

Inditex has been approached by the Big Issue for comment.

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