Plastics recyclers that use heat to treat their material may to face a bill for monitoring the emissions from their facilities.
The Environment Agency has written to the 19 facilities in England that reprocess plastics using heat to warn them that they could face a significant annual charge for this service.
In the last waste exemptions review, the Government excluded the use of heat in the new exemption covering the treatment of waste plastics as there was no evidence to show that harmful emissions were not being generated by these plants.
But as the Government recognised that this regulatory change would have a financial impact on the plastic remanufacturing sector, it produced a regulatory position statement that enabled this form of recycling to continue until it produced a standard rules permit.
However, an Environment Agency official from the Illegals and Waste team in an email seen by Resource Efficient Business, has written to the companies involved to warn them that this exemption will end.
He wrote: “The key issue of emissions remains. I have tried to engage with the British Plastics Federation to help understand if there is a risk and have suggested that to move forward we would need monitoring done at a number of sites to show what the risk of emissions is.
“Unfortunately, this has not progressed and so I am in a position where we need to review the regulatory position statement and establish a date by which it expires, which would likely be by the end of June 2015.
“I am writing to you to provide a final opportunity to address the emissions issue. If we can’t get the information we need, we will have to withdraw the position statement on expiry and sites treating plastics will need a permit. This is likely to attract an application fee and an annual subsistence charge of several thousand pounds.
“Your activity has the potential to be regarded as low risk and may even be considered for a new exemption, but without this information we cannot move forward. If you would like to be involved in resolving this then please let me know.
“There would be a cost involved as with any monitoring programme which we are not in a position to fund. That said, I do have an emissions expert in the Environment Agency who would be willing to help co-ordinate the monitoring so that a consistent methodology can be used and results across sites can be compared. If all 19 companies were willing to contribute it shouldn’t cost too much and will save much more in the long term. I have already had a positive response to this from a couple of people that I have spoken to previously.”
It is understood that around two thirds of the companies involved are relatively small recycling businesses, and fears have been expressed that this could lead to some of these businesses closing if implemented.