Having accepted the chief executive role at the BMRA, I realised very quickly that metals recycling was an understated industry in terms of the benefits to society. It is rare that you get an industry that can boast both environment and economic benefits.
I am looking forward to championing the industry while driving opportunities for growth. But my first 100 days will be all about prioritising. First will be reaching out to the members, making sure I understand what they want from the BMRA, how they think I can help and add value. I want to ensure we promote robustly what we do for the membership.
I will also be demanding of the Government because I think they owe us as much as we owe them. High on the list will be asking how we can help Whitehall to deliver on its resources and waste strategy.
I was encouraged to see it focus on eco-design and sustainability, and I think the metals sector is ideally placed to support work undertaken to shape and deliver on this objective.
I would also like to encourage the Government to move the strategy’s goal posts. This is because, while its objectives are commendable, its focus on single-use plastics alongside food and municipal waste means that entire waste streams, including metals, have been overlooked.
In fact, despite metals recycling being a 12 million tonne a year industry, it was barely even mentioned. The strategy also overlooked industrial waste streams too.
As a newcomer to the recycling industry, I am surprised that so little focus is given to metals – not just in the waste strategy but more widely, especially given that metals recycling is a perfect example of circularity.
It seems that, because BMRA members pay to receive materials rather than being paid to remove them, outsiders think they do not face the same trials as general waste companies. But scrap businesses were affected by the Chinese waste import ban too. They are closely regulated, but unchecked, illegal, cash-paying operators are undermining legitimate businesses across the UK.
I hope to take steps to change this perception and to give the BMRA a louder voice and a seat at the table where the real issues affecting the entire waste sector are being discussed.
James Kelly is chief executive at British Metals Recycling Association
Quick CV: James Kelly
Kelly is an ambassador/promoter by background. After time spent working with the Institute of Mechanical Engineering, he moved to the Direct Marketing Association before becoming chief executive of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).
One of the biggest battles Kelly undertook at the BSIA was retaining regulation which was under threat of removal. Given that security can be a front for criminality, he led a successful campaign to retain regulation to keep the professionalism of the industry.