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Fears Reach may lead to high costs

Small companies dealing in metals used for hi-tech applications such as LCD screens, mobile phones and computer keyboards risk having to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to comply with a new European law being introduced later this year.

The legislation, which covers the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals or Reach is intended to replace a mass of existing red tape. However, Anthony Lipmann, managing director of specialist metals firm Lipmann and Walton, believes the new rules, which form part of the largest piece of legislation to emerge from the EU, could force some companies to pay £170,000 to test each specialist metal they deal in. His company currently handles more than 30 specialist metals.

For every element there will be traders and producers like myself whose existence is threatened by their inability to fund compliance with the law, said Lipmann.

British Metals Recycling Association director general Lindsay Millington said recycling yards were currently classed as waste operations by Brussels, exempting them from Reach legislation unless they specifically handle chemicals. She explained that this waste classification was under review by policy makers but was unlikely to change within the next three years and said the impact of Reach would mainly be felt by large smelting plants.

Handlers of base and precious metals also appear to be unaffected by the new rules, which come into effect in June. Specialist metals traders have until June 2008 to ensure they comply with the legislation.

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