Scrap metal dealers bill edges closer to law

A bill setting out major changes in the scrap metal industry – including compulsory licensing and increased police and local authority powers – is close to becoming law.

The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Bill, which has implications for metal recycling firms, has passed the committee stage in the House of Lords, without a ‘sunset clause’ that would have meant the legislation would be revoked if not updated within five years.

There are further stages before the bill – which is a private members’ bill, sponsored by Conservative MP Richard Ottaway — can be made law. If this happens, scrap dealers will have to display a licence and be listed on a national, public register kept by the Environment Agency. Councils will have the power to refuse, vary and revoke dealers’ licences, and charge fees for the licensing scheme. Failure to comply could result in unlimited fines as well as premises being shut down by the council or the police.

Customers will be affected, too: when selling metal to traders, they must present valid identification (which the dealer must record and keep for two years), and they will not be able to receive cash for their scrap metal, even when selling it to itinerant collectors.

The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) Director General, Ian Hetherington, wants to see the bill passed soon “to improve regulation in the metals recycling industry and fight metal theft”, which, because of loopholes in existing legislation with regard to cash transactions, is a major problem.

Recycling Lives welcomes the licensing measures, which will mean greater accountability within the industry, and supports the extension of the cash ban (which has already been implemented in licensed yards) to itinerant traders. We have already expressed our view that if all dealers are obliged to conduct their business without cash transactions, everyone will be on an equal footing, with both licensed scrap yards and legitimate itinerant traders (who, like scrap yards, lose out to bogus collectors) benefiting from the proposals set out in the bill.

The Recycling Lives social business, in line with its firm commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, continues to lead the way in adapting to changes in how business is conducted in the industry. We believe that checks and balances play a vital role in our work, which is also geared to sustaining charity through metal and waste recycling.

Before the rule about no cash transactions was implemented in December, Recycling Lives made sure it had systems in place to comply with the legislation and still provide excellent customer service. This followed on from our involvement in Operation Tornado, a scheme involving the police and other agencies, to make it harder for metal thieves to sell scrap. Recycling Lives pledges to carry on making every effort to improve the way it works – and the way the whole industry goes about its business under new legislation.