Defra's response to the crime and poor performance consultation could allow illegal operators to continue unchecked.
British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) welcomes the publication of Government’s findings as a result of its consultation on Proposals to tackle crime and poor performance in the waste sector and to introduce a new fixed penalty for the waste duty of care. However, we are disappointed that key objectives of the consultation will not be addressed or have now been postponed.
We are concerned that there is seemingly no appetite to carry out a root and branch review of the waste carrier, broker or dealer licencing system. Currently, unlike the scrap metal dealer licencing system, there are few checks and balances made into those people applying for a waste carrier, broker or dealer licence. Neither is the fee commensurate with the responsibility that the waste carrier, broker or dealer will have placed on them. This could have been an ideal opportunity for Government to capture information that would allow it to better understand those people operating as a waste carrier, broker or dealer. It may also have made it easier to identify those operators that repeatedly collect, store and then abandon sites.
We are disappointed that further information about specific financial provision options and the potential changes to the exemption system will not now be released until 2019. While it is heartening that Defra states it remains committed to reforming the exemption system, delaying a decision, let alone implementing any changes, allows otherwise illegal operators to obtain an exemption to appear to be part of the regulated community whilst very often flouting all other environmental controls. Until reforms are enacted, these operators will continue unchecked thereby creating an uneven playing field for legitimate operators.
Finally, while we understand the potential effectiveness that a fixed penalty notice system might have, it will have little impact unless the wider general public is aware of their obligations and the penalties they risk should they not use an authorised person to handle their waste. Furthermore, there also needs to be great clarity of how a person can ‘appear’ to have failed to comply with their duty of care.
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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).