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Scrap metal sector speaks!


  • Unlicensed operators deprive legitimate scrap yards of material and business
  • Rogue vehicle operators are dangerous and not licensed to dismantle cars
  • Car owners should have a duty to ensure their cars are legally scrapped

As a southern scrap metal recycler who is running a business with the correct permits and compliant with all the correct regulations, it seems totally unfair when unlicensed operators begin profiteering from unlicensed business.

Currently, we are experiencing more and more people advertising their services to pick up and scrap cars, they seem to be flocking around the UK. Obviously, there are many licensed and legal yards such as ours, however, we know there are many dishonest groups of people getting in on the game as a result of the high metal prices we are experiencing at the moment.

Cars are a huge proportion of the material we handle and although it is a low grade material it is probably currently worth the highest value. You know that if you pick a car up, it is around a tonne of metal, so if you were to pick up just one car each day of the week, it could earn you around £1,000 by the end of those five days. So it looks like easy money to illegal operators, but at the same time as they make their money they take it away from us, consuming our material and attracting more trade by offering higher prices for people’s cars than we can offer.

For us legal recyclers, we have to spend thousands of pounds on becoming licensed to ensure we can safely de-pollute and dismantle cars to produce the certificate of destruction (COD), which confirms the car has been safely treated. Why then should these other operators be making money without regulations, while we stick by the rules but lose out on material and money to stay compliant?  It can feel, for little yards like mine, like we are getting a raw deal.

Rogue vehicle dismantlers are dangerous because these people are not fully licensed to safely take a car apart. Some tell the car owner that they will have the car scrapped, when in actual fact, they put the un-roadworthy car back on the road, while the new owner has no idea. In some cases, we have heard that the previous owner has even received a speeding ticket from the old banger they believed had been responsibly scrapped months before.

For these reasons, I think it seems fair that the responsibility should lie with the car-owner. It should be up to the owner of the vehicle to take their car to a reputable scrap yard and actually receive a physical copy of the COD to ensure everything has been carried out on the right side of the law.

There needs to be much more pressure on them to be responsible in the same way they have to tax and ensure they have MOT on their car. Owners should have a duty to follow the car until it has truly reached the end of its life.

The Environment Agency has cracked down to try and tackle rogue car traders but they are hard to place and to deter from these crimes because the money they earn is so great. By looking at regulation from a different point of view, it could be possible to limit the amount of trading these people do, ensuring the supply chain of scrapped cars is auditable and safe.

If something is not done to try and better police the industry then this problem will continue. In the long-term, the effect of these unlicensed companies will severely damage small yards. It could be that in the end, the unlicensed dealers will sell directly to the big scrap yards, effectively knocking out the middle men such as me. For the time being, we are still holding on.  We are a sturdy bunch, continuing to pull through the ups and downs of the scrap industry.

Are you a scrap merchant with an issue to raise? Contact Tiffany Holland on 020 7728 4534 or email All contributors to scrap panel will be anonymous.

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