British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is extremely disappointed by the Home Office’s
announcement that it will simply retain the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 rather than
strengthen it to ensure that, as a piece of legislation, it is fit for purpose.
We are further dismayed that, despite the rising incidents of metal theft, they have chosen
not to allocate funds to enforce the Act through the reestablishment of the Metal Theft
Instead, Government has chosen to take the path of least resistance, thereby ignoring the
pleas by the many victims of crime to strengthen the Act. Since the review was announced,
we have repeatedly warned that, as metal prices recover, the reports of metal theft will rise
– and they have done, significantly.
When the Review was announced, while BMRA firmly supported the move to retain the Act,
it in fact pleaded with Government to both further strengthen and enforce the Act. The
measures we request to strengthen the Act included:
• Creating disincentives to receive cash payments by creating a new offence of
receiving cash for scrap metal.
• Expanding police powers to inspect itinerant collectors, more specifically given them
the power to inspect vehicles used for the purpose of carrying on business as a
• Creating a more rigorous local authority licensing regime to ensure transparency and
consistency by: Harmonising licensing renewals procedure; Improving application
process; and, strengthening the requirement for local authorities to provide data.
Having ignored these requests for the Act to be amended, and those made by other key
stakeholders, the Home Office must be prepared to be held accountable for soaring metal
theft figures, and any resulting injuries to members of the public.
Nevertheless, BMRA will gladly take up the Home Office’s offer to help it identify what can
be done within the existing legislation to address the serious shortcomings of the SMDA
Chief Executive Officer
Notes to editors:
1. The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) represents the £7 billion UK metals recycling
2. The BMRA’s 260+ members include large and small businesses in the ferrous and non-ferrous
sectors including shredder operators, merchants and traders.
3. Metals recycling is a globally competitive and environmentally important industry. It supplies
secondary raw material, which preserves natural resources, saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions
by up to 80 per cent in metals production.
4. The UK metal recycling industry is so efficient at recovering metal from end-of-life products that
more is recovered than can be consumed domestically. As a result, around over 80 per cent of all
‘waste’ metal is now destined for export. This means we are competing against suppliers from the USA
and Japan who are not required to characterise recycled metal as waste.
5. Recycling of metals is also the major contributor to the UK’s achievement of targets under EU
Directives such as end-of-life vehicles and packaging.
6. In 2016, the UK exported 8 million tonnes of recovered ferrous (iron and steel) metal and
approximately 750 thousand tonnes of non-ferrous metal (such as aluminium and copper).