The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) has launched a report calling on Government policy makers to review issues that hold back the industry.
The report An Agenda for Change reasserts that UK metal recycling industry is vital to the UKs ability to meet EU Directive targets. These include targets for packaging recovery, end-of-life vehicles (ELV), batteries and the waste electrical and electronic equipment.
BMRA director general Lindsay Millington says: Metal recycling is the UKs biggest recycling sector and already makes a major contribution to the economy and the countrys environmental performance. Given the right regulatory framework and political support, we can make an even bigger contribution.
According to the report the problems holding the industry back are:
a classification of recovered metal as waste;
one-size-fits-all environmental regulation;
and, a lack of an industry-focused strategy.
Millington says: This creates barriers to trade and stifles development. We are worried about a lack of infrastructure and a key demand in the Agenda is for this. We want Government policy makers to engage with the industry to deal with these issues.
Future targets such as recycling, reusing or recovering 95% of the material in ELV by 2015 require the Government and industry to work together, Millington says.
To start the discussion, the BMRA has suggested some straight forward solutions
It says that the new European Waste Framework Directive must enable changes to the classification of recovered metal as waste as quickly as possible. It says the Waste Shipment Regulations must not be allowed to block legitimate trade.
Millington says: We urgently need a situation where recovered metals that meet UK grade specifications are no longer categorised as waste. Everyone knows that metal gets recycled, not dumped, it doesnt need some of the controls that have been put on it.
We export far more from the UK than anyone else in Europe so its an issue that affects us most.
Millington says the wording of the Waste Framework Directive is extremely important. We are very concerned about the definitions of waste in the Directive. Were worried that the wrong definition might come out or that the right outcome will happen, but six years down the line.
She says a full review of regulations affecting the industry is needed to solve the regulatory issues. Regulation streamlining and sector specific guidance would follow on from this. But, the report adds, EPP and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) exemptions review must not add to the regulatory burden.
While increases in regulations are not encouraged, the BMRA has renewed its call to stamp out illegal operators. The report says: Enforcement often seems to be directed towards minor infringements, rather than closing operators that evade regulation completely.
Such an unequal application of regulation can damage the commercial trade of legal operators.
The BMRA wants more regulator resources to help close down illegal sites, a joined up Certificate of Destruction for ELV together with a robust DVLA monitoring system. It says that proportionate streamlined regulation would encourage proper registration and level the playing field.
To increase the focus on industry, the BMRA has called for the set up of a Recycling Task Force. Millington says, such a group would bring together Government, regulators and the metal recycling industry to develop the coordinated strategy. The UK needs this to meet increasing recycling and recovery targets. But nobody is doing this at the moment, she adds.
As continual sector growth has been forecast up to 2012 by market researchers Market & Business Development (M&BD), it is very important to support UK companies trading in Europe. A recent report M&BD says: Demand for metal waste and scrap are expected to increase by a cumulative 16% in real terms between 2007 and 2012. Growth is expected to be driven by increased environmental awareness and legislative pressure regarding the rate of metal recycling in the UK.
Millington adds: We do live in the real world and regulations take time to change but we do think that the UK Government should be shouting louder with Europe to get some change. Maybe in terms of how the rules are applied. But in the meantime we are getting help from Defra and the Environment Agency as they are taking what they call a light touch in enforcing regulations in the UK.