60 seconds with...British Metals Recycling Association chief executive James Kelly

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
James Kelly
The BMRA and UK Government would not listen to how the industry could have self funded the ...

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New chief executive of the British Metals Recycling Association sits down with RWW to talk through its new strategy.

Q: In the first 100 days of your appointment, you expressed your wishes to reach out to BMRA members – what has been the response?

A: I have visited a number of members and have had a very warm response. It has become clear to me that our members are energetic, can-do businesses run by optimistic people willing to work around problems. They simply want a level playing field in terms of compliance and enforcement. I am looking forward to undertaking more member visits in the coming months and I look forward to discussing the issues they face in greater detail.

Q: What is the greatest challenge to the metals sector?

A: The lack of enforcement of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. Put simply neither the police nor local authorities have the funding to tackle cash-paying operatives. The illegal operators know this and now openly flout the law and even advertise that they will pay cash for scrap metal. This is creating an uneven playing field for legitimate businesses who are losing significant contracts to cash-paying operators. At the same time, the legitimate sector is facing ever-increasing costs to comply with changing regulations.

Q: How will the BMRA be lobbying government moving forward? What are its priorities?

A: The Association is ever-mindful of the need to influence legislators and to direct the government’s focus to areas of deep concern to the industry. I’m therefore delighted at the extent of our communication with parliamentarians and regulatory bodies. It will be a priority for us to maintain and extend this influence and ensure we champion members’ interests at the highest level.

The threats facing the industry are not insignificant, from the purported international definition of recycling to legacy additives, and I can see that BMRA’s efforts in interpreting and managing these threats in order to mitigate their risk to members’ businesses are invaluable and unrivalled in the metals recycling industry.

Q: Do you think consumers understand the role of metals in the circular economy?

A: Not really. Household recycling figures are slowly moving up with metal packaging as the real star of the show, achieving just over 71% in 2017. However, looking around a home, you will find so much more metal than drinks cans and foil. It seems that, rather than taking scrap metal or waste electrical and electronic equipment to a scrap yard, householders are either leaving it out for ‘someone’ to collect or taking it to the household waste recycling centre.

They don’t seem to have yet understood that metal is 100% recyclable. They don’t class scrap as a secondary raw material, which contributes to a true circular economy. In fact, they don’t see that scrap has an instant value. There are not many places you can go to where you are paid for your waste (not that we think metal should be classed as waste, but that’s another story).

Q: BMRA have recently launched a ‘support your local scrap yard’ campaign – how are you planning to engage citizens?

A: BMRA’s main focus is to support our members ensuring they are aware of legislation, environmental and employment matters. We are their voice when lobbying the government and working with stakeholders such as Defra, the Environment Agency and British Transport Police. As part of this, we also promote the importance of metals recycling and its environmental benefits to the wider public.

‘Support your local yard, support your local community’ is a way to engage with the public to encourage more metal into the circular economy, while promoting BMRA member yards.

A recent YouGov survey commissioned by member EMR found that 6% of Generation Z described metal recycling yards as ‘environmentally harmful’. The fact anyone thinks it can be harmful rather than protecting natural resources is alarming, so it is key to ensure that not only are we encouraging the recycling of metal, we are educating along the way. For example, we have educational materials that member yards can give to schools to show the environmental benefits of metal recycling.

Every bank holiday and across school holidays we will promote the initiative via social media, as well as encourage member yards to contact and promote themselves to local schools, charities and community initiatives as another revenue stream for them.

We believe that we need to engage children as early as possible to show them how important it is for them to recycle metal. However, we also want to encourage them to follow a proper waste hierarchy too.

BMRA is a partner at The Recycling Event, held at the Ricoh Arena on 2 July 2019.


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The BMRA and UK Government would not listen to how the industry could have self funded the elimination of the illegal yards , I even presented the solution to the Home Office directly but to no avail which is why your left with the mess that Sims, EMR and the BMRA created as they gave the advice to the UK Government .

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