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2013 Review - Ian Hetherington

The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act (SMDA) 2013 comes at the end of a year of change for the industry.

Exempting motor vehicle salvage operators and certain itinerant collectors from the LASPO Act 2012’s ban on cash payments created an unlevel playing field as these operators were able to continue to pay cash for scrap. This caused thevolume of scrap metal available for purchase by the legitimate trade to fall by 5% to 10% across the country.

Material was clearly being syphoned off by exempted operators as well as criminal traders paying cash for scrap. Despite this, there have only been a limited number of successful prosecutions and derisory fines. Fortunately, the SMDA came into force on 1 October and extends the ban on cash payments to all dealers as well as increasing penalties for breaking the law.

The new Act replaces the outdated 1964 legislation and sees local authorities implement a new licensing system for scrap metal dealers. All dealers must apply for a site or collector’s licence from their local council and their criminal records and suitability will be assessed before a licence is granted.

The BMRA welcomes the draft WEEE regulations published by BIS in November as the favoured option should reduce the cost of compliance while helping the UK achieve higher recycling targets and improve the treatment of WEEE. The proposed approach is proportionate and recognises that the greater the value left in the waste stream, the more likely that there will be high levels of real re-use, recycling and recovery without recourse to artificial economic tools that distort or disrupt markets. 

Whilst the public’s attention has been focused on metal theft and the regulation of scrap metal dealers, the industry has been investing in world leading materials recycling and recovery processes. This is driven by a commitment to reach the UK’s increased recycling targets and the industry’s desire to strengthen its position as Europe’s leading exporter of recycled metal.

Ian Hetherington, chief executive, BMRA. Taken from the MRW handbook

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