Plans to extend waste recovery legislation to an estimated 6,000 smaller firms could cost them millions of pounds, a packaging agency has warned.
Valpak, the major compliance agent for British companies forced to reduce packaging waste in line with European Commission directives, has warned the Government that plans to extend waste recovery regulations to firms with turnover of £1m £5m will be too expensive to implement unless the rules are relaxed.
It argues that the cost of setting up computerised data systems to monitor waste packaging could be too much for some companies to bear.
Instead of providing data showing exactly how much packaging is used by each company, the Government should allow average estimates of waste for specific industry groups, it said.
The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations have applied to more than 4,500 companies with turnover above £5m since last March.
The Environment Agency has however only just begun monitoring to determine how many companies may not be complying.
Offenders can be prosecuted, with the courts having discretion to levy unlimited fines for serious breaches of the regulations.
Government review of the regulations is due to be completed in the autumn.
Valpak estimates that the cost of compliance for UK industry will be £300m to £600m.
* The overall recovery target of 38% of packaging waste in aluminium, steel, plastics, glass and paper is due to increase to 52% by 2001.