Collect and Recycle

‘Watershed’ scrap metal laws come into force

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On October 1, new scrap metal recycling legislation – the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013 – came into force, replacing a 1964 Act and being welcomed by both councils and the dealers themselves. The new law hands local authorities enhanced powers to tackle the theft of scrap metal, reports Collect and Recycle (

The new legislation means that scrap metal dealers cannot trade without obtaining a licence from their local authority, while the council can also revoke or suspend a licence in the event of the breach of regulations. The new regulations will begin to be enforced by local authorities from December 1, when a full licence with the relevant council will need to be held by traders. But until October 15, firms can apply for a temporary licence covering the interim period, as they await the processing of full applications.

Aluminium and copper recycling specialists have had two pieces of legislation to deal with in the last 12 months that have focused on the elimination of the illegal trade in stolen metal. The first was the Legal Aid and Sentencing of Offenders (LASPO) Act, which was passed last year and banned scrap metal dealers from trading in cash.

The LASPO Act actually created a loophole allowing the continued payment of cash for scrap by itinerant dealers, which many industry observers bemoaned as potentially undermining legitimate trade. With the introduction of the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013, that loophole has now been closed.

Hailing the legislation finally coming into force was the sector’s trade body, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), with director General Ian Hetherington hailing it as “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.”

The Act seeks to deter prospective sellers of illegal scrap by requiring dealers to verify and record the identity of anyone that they purchase scrap metal from. Police officers will also face fewer barriers to the entrance and inspection of unlicensed premises, with illegal traders also being subject to stiffer penalties.

There will also be a publicly available register of all UK-licensed scrap dealers, which the Environment Agency will be tasked with maintaining.

Also approving of the new regulations was chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer Communities Board, Mehboob Khan, who said that it would assist in tackling the “mindless crime” of metal thefts.

As leading and fully legally compliant specialists in copper and aluminium recycling, Collect and Recycle ( joins other sector stakeholders in welcoming an Act that promises to clean up our industry, ridding it of the worst rogue traders. Contact us now to find out more about how to get paid for recycling.

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