NEW legislation in England and Wales will help the metals recycling industry shed its outdated image and help foster a positive new era for the UK’s £5 billion metals recycling sector says the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).
The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013 came into force at the start of October, and will replace and modernise the legislation governing the recycling industry for the first time in nearly half a century.
Ian Hetherington, director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), commented: “The implementation of the new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act is a watershed moment for the industry; it’s an opportunity to rid the industry of the ‘Steptoe and Son’ stereotype once and for all.
“Metals recycling is a British success story; it contributes £5.6 billion to the economy whilst increasing the UK’s share of the global market for recycled metals. The industry has led the way in developing sophisticated materials recycling processes and continues to do so by diverting waste metal away from landfill.”
He added: “Metals recycling has become increasingly modern and professional in recent years. There are major metals recycling businesses operating on an international scale in Britain which make a significant contribution to our economy and help the UK reach the EU’s environmental recycling and recovery targets.”
The new Act will replace the outdated 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act and puts in place a more effective licensing system for scrap metal dealers. All site-based and mobile scrap dealers, including motor salvage operators, must obtain a licence from their local authority in order to continue operating legally. In turn, the licensing authority will check the criminal records and suitability of applicants to operate as a scrap metal dealer.
Last year’s ban on cash payments for scrap metal will be extended under the new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act to all metal dealers including traditional scrap yards, mobile collectors and motor vehicle salvage operators. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act made it an offence to buy scrap metal for cash or by any form of payment other than a crossed cheque or electronic money transfer. However, some metal traders were exempt which created an unfair playing field and exposed businesses to a drop in trade.
The Act marks progress in the fight against metal theft because it will limit the potential outlets for stolen metal and expose unscrupulous dealers who act as conduits for stolen metal.
Under the new Act, dealers must verify and record the identity of anyone from whom they buy scrap metal. This will help to further discourage thieves who will be asked to produce photographic identification when seeking to sell stolen metal. Plus, it will be easier for police officers to enter and inspect unlicensed premises backed up by increased penalties for breaking the law such as higher fines and sentences.
The new Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act was presented as a Private Members’ Bill by MP Richard Ottaway in 2012. The Act was implemented in England and Wales on Tuesday 1 October and will be enforceable from 1 December 2013.