BMRA response to the independent review into serious and organised crime in the waste sector

While it is encouraging to see the review into serious and organised waste crime, it is disheartening to see that the metals sector has been overlooked. The statistics point to just 200 million tonnes of waste produced in the UK and estimate that only 4.2 million tonnes are exported so they clearly do not include recycled metal data as we produce some 12 million tonnes and export 10 million tonnes.

The review does make reference to metal in the context of registrations being refused or revoked by the Environment Agency if the applicant has committed an offence related to metal offences under specific legislation; unfortunately, it does not reference the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. With cash payments for scrap metal going unchecked across the country, it is concerning that these potentially high-value transactions have not drawn more attention from a money laundering aspect alone. Nevertheless, it would be really interesting for the BMRA to get involved with the Joint Unit for Waste Crime so we can share the metals perspective.

In terms of the wider recommendations of the review, they will only be successful if sufficient budget is set aside to deliver those recommendations. As we have seen with the SMDA, if there is no budget to ensure wider objectives are being met, in this case thorugh enforcement of the Act, any ambitions remain just that, ambitions.

For further information, please contact:

Antonia Grey
t. 01480 455249
m. 07812037613


Notes to editors:


1. The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) represents the £7 billion UK metals recycling industry.

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. 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.

4. 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.

5. In 2017, the UK exported over 9 million tonnes of recovered ferrous (iron and steel) metal and approximately 800,000 thousand tonnes of non-ferrous metal (such as aluminium and copper).