What does 2021 have in store for metal recyclers?

2020 has been an unprecedented year. COVID-19 resulted in a landscape for metal recyclers no-one could have prepared for. While many BMRA members continued to operate, others decided to temporarily close and take advantage of the Government support schemes. Whatever our members' responses were, having access to up-to-date information in a timely manner was key, as we tailored Government briefings on COVID-19 for release the same day or next. 

“I want to thank you for your work on the delivery of information throughout the pandemic (ongoing).  Up to date, relevant and thorough information was, and continues to be, distributed to us in real time enabling us to operate safely and confidently. It was a massive kudos for the industry to be recognised as key workers!”  BMRA member, September 2020     


Once Government published a list of the key workers, the BMRA worked with Defra to ensure metal recyclers were included. We began a sustained communications plan to keep members informed on all aspects of COVID-19, from operational rights to accessing financial support. We contacted stakeholders such as the police services to ensure they were aware that metal recyclers were listed as an essential business and therefore able to continue operating. We also worked regularly with the Home Office, BEIS, Defra and the Environment Agency, not least because specific metal recycling regulation was amended during this period.

Throughout the pandemic, the team has driven forward a wide range of other issues that impact your business, in particular waste classification and metal crime, and we know that many of these will continue to pose problems to our industry over the coming year.


Key activities for 2021 include:

  • Ongoing support during the Pandemic: BMRA will continue to support its members during the pandemic, be it offering specific advice over the phone, or through real time bulletins.
  • Brexit: Are you ready for January 1, 2021? Businesses will continue to face challenges in regard to Brexit, be it immigration or exports. We remain in close contact with relevant government departments, so that we can support you no matter what type of Brexit we face. we have already had some success, for example there will be no tariffs imposed on almost all scrap metals.
  • Employment support: BMRA members can access a free telephone helpline for advice. This offers further support during the pandemic as well as advice on a range of issues, such as employment, commercial legal, and tax.
  • Insurance: BMRA members could save up to 30%* on insurance with exclusive rates/premiums only available to BMRA members. *On average members pay up to 30% less than if approaching the same insurers without BMRA membership. The bespoke recycling policy wording also incorporates a number of additional covers/extras often not provided by other insurers.
  • Health and Safety: BMRA will issue further sections of the updated Health and Safety manual, exclusively for BMRA members. This manual is metal recycling-specific and provides invaluable advice and best practice guidance. The manual is complemented by posters for metal recycling yards to highlight key risks.
  • Metal crime: We will continue to work with enforcement bodies and to sit on working groups tasked with tackling metal crime, including the NPCC Working Group on Metal Theft, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Metal, Stone and Heritage Crime and the Regulated Business Forum.
  • Definition of ‘recycling’: Operations could be considered ‘sorting’ and NOT ‘recycling’, therefore members risk losing the ability to achieve ‘end-of-waste’ status and, for example, claim PRN revenue on recovered packaging. We continue to work closely with BIR and EuRIC to stop this.
  • Networking: The Summer Dinner and Golf Day (June) and the BMRA Annual Dinner (November) remain the highlight, but we plan further networking opportunities throughout the year.
  • VAT Fraud: With a new VAT Committee established, we will highlight inconsistent actions taken against members unfairly implicated in VAT fraud while petitioning for reverse charge VAT.
  • Waste classifications: The sector continues to face many challenges with non-WEEE cables, ELV plastics and metal shredder residue all currently under review by the EA.  BMRA continues to work on the waste classification and POPS status of these wastes and seeks to ensure a proportionate response from the regulators and long-term solutions to ensuring these wastes can continue to be treated appropriately.
  • Promotion of members: BMRA will promote members via the website ‘Recycler Directory’ and social media. Don’t forget to send us your news for Scrapbook, FRAGments and the website.
  • The future of metals recycling: There are two sector-specific apprenticeships both of which will future-proof the industry. For SMEs in particular, apprenticeships are a very cost-effective way to employ and train employees with the Government funding 95% of the training costs. Plus, we also have our successful Young British Metals Recyclers group.

There has never been a more important time to be a member of a trade body and for the industry to pull together. With all the uncertainty and potential for change ahead, the bigger the membership, the more powerful our voice will be. Join today.