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Textile recyclers lament licence uncertainty

Confusion over the need for certain licences is screwing another nail into the textiles recovery industry's coffin, according to representatives.

The Textiles Recycling Association (TRA) insisted under-pressure firms had no way of proving to clients that they had all the licences they needed

By law, companies require Waste Management Licences and Waste Carriers Licences to carry out certain tasks with materials defined as waste.

So the TRA asked the Environment Agency (EA) for clarification on when exactly its members needed these documents - and was unconvinced by the reply.

TRA president Terry Ralph said: "It is not clear whether textiles companies need Waste Carriers Licences or Waste Management Licence Exemptions.

"The EU has been clear but it is the EA that we are answerable to, and we have asked the EA to tell us when these licences are needed.

"The EA has replied but we still believe we need further clarification. I would say at this time that everyone should follow their own thoughts on this matter."

TRA national liaison manager Alan Wheeler added: "We will be working with the relevant authorities on the uncertainties over the definition of waste.

"It is a complicated issue and, depending on what hat one has on, there are advantages and disadvantages to being classed as waste handlers.

"What we certainly do not want is the uncertainty that prevails."

An EA spokesman said: "We have discussed the matter with the textiles industry, and we believe we are very clear on when they need these licences.

"If anyone is still unclear then they can call the EA."

Many firms in the textiles recovery industry are engaged in a tough battle for survival, and can ill afford to lose contracts over licence uncertainty.

Ralph told TRA members at last week's AGM: "Last year was fraught with anxieties concerning failing markets and currency fluctuations.

"We are selling our second-hand clothing at 1995 prices and our recyclables at prices below those achievable in 1985 - but our overheads are at 2005 levels."

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