Doing business is inextricably linked to incurring various risks. However, certain sectors, particularly those covered by additional regulations, are characterized by increased risks for entrepreneurs. A prime example of this is waste management. For several years now, we have seen increasingly frequent inspections by environmental inspectors, which often end in imposing administrative fines. What’s more, police statistics show that there are also more and more criminal prosecutions for inadequate waste handling.
Waste management requires entrepreneurs in this sector to comply with a number of detailed, often quite restrictive standards. Operating in this industry without the required decision, in violation of its terms or in violation of applicable laws is subject to a number of sanctions. Most of these sanctions are administrative fines. The grounds for imposing such penalties is contained in a number of different laws. The most important of them is Article 194 of The Waste Act. Administrative fines imposed for the violations can range from 1.000 PLN up to 1 million PLN.
Criminal lability concerning waste management
Criminal liability for improper waste handling is stated in Article 183 of Criminal Code. Several different irregularities concerning waste management are considered crimes, not only improper waste handling. Apart from imprisonment, the Court can also impose a compensatory damages. It is an obligation to pay a certain amount to a designated entity. It can range from 10.000 PLN to even 10 million PLN.
The Waste Act provides for misdemeanor liability for a number of minor violations related to waste handling. Since September 2022 also collective entities can be held criminally responsible for improper waste handling.
The imposition of administrative fines on a waste management entity, as well as conviction for the listed crimes or offenses, has serious consequences. If an entrepreneur is punished with several administrative fines and/or is convicted for felonies and certain waste offenses it may prevent them from applying for further waste processing or collection permits.
That is why it is so important to be aware of waste management regulations. It to also a good idea to put in place special procedures to counter irregularities. In the event of an inspection, the entrepreneur should engage in discourse with the authorities from the very beginning and take up a defence against any allegations.
The full article is available in Polish here. The article has been prepared in association with Dr Krystian Ziemski & Partners Law Firm Limited Partnership.