Anyone convicted of any metal crime theft will lose their licences and be banned for working in the industry under proposed changes.
Further changes proposed for existing legislation from April would also mean anyone convicted of transporting stolen metal could be forced out of business by having their carrier registration taken off them.
Until now, only convictions relating to pollution, harm to the environment or nuisance to nearby communities have been taken into consideration when deciding whether a person or business is a suitable person to run a waste facility or act as a waste carrier.
Environment minister Lord Taylor said : “Stolen metal will be too hot to handle.
“Mindless criminals who steal from our railways and historic buildings, and the scrap dealers who fuel the market, are causing misery and anger for countless people.
“We’ll purge the industry of rotten elements by flushing them out of legitimate businesses, or shutting dodgy businesses down altogether.”
Environment Agency chief executive Paul Leinster said: “This builds on work we are doing to support the British Transport Police’s crackdown on metal theft and our on-going work to tackle illegal waste sites”.
By April 2013, it is proposed the broader range of convictions will also be used when scrutinising all new applications to register to transport any waste.
Most waste carriers will need to re-register every three years and, under the changes, all applications would be scrutinised using the additional tougher criteria. Registered carriers subsequently convicted of a relevant offence may have their registration revoked.