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Concerns raised over first compliance period

Concerns have been raised over the effect of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) compliance fees during the first year of the directive.

Accreditation costs £2,590 and must be paid annually by Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities (AATFs) and Approved Exporters (AEs) to provide a trail of how and where the equipment is dealt with.

But with the directive set to come into effect this July, M Baker Recycling business development manager Julie-Ann Adams believes the timing may affect the ability of some companies to operate during the first compliance period.

She said: Most people must put in a submission to start operating in July. But they will then have to pay again in December for 2008, meaning they would have paid a full years charge for only six months.

A lot of companies have said that they wont take in enough material to make a profit in the six months of 2007, so may not operate until 2008.

Adams main concern is that this could restrict the number of customers willing to take material off the AATFs between July and December this year.

While the fee is a positive thing and will get rid of a lot of cowboys, the figures may not stack up in the first six months. Therefore, if people cant make enough money, will the AATFs have enough outlets to service them during 2007? she queried.

The Environment Agency stated that while there is a reduced fee of £500 for operators who deal with 400 tonnes or less annually, the amount for the first compliance period of six months is the same as it would be for a whole year as processing applications costs the same irrespective of the time period.

Its policy advisor (producer responsibility) Adrian Harding said that it was vital to have a full audit trail so that everyone in the chain could have confidence that all WEEE is dealt with properly. But he did admit there was a possibility of some companies opting out during the first term.

There is nothing to stop someone saying that for six months they are not going to be an AE and to stand back and see how the market goes before entering in year two or beyond. But paying the application fee is a business decision and individual companies will decide if they can recoup it.

Some will no doubt find it very profitable, others wont. We are receiving applications now, and while some may see it as a bit of a leap of faith, there could be a situation where not enough join or on the other hand, we may get too many, Harding said.

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