The British Metals Recycling Association is the trade association representing the £7 billion UK Metal Recycling sector. Metals recycling is an established, globally competitive industry that provides essential secondary raw material for metals manufacture, which in turn enables a significant reduction in use of energy and virgin resources. The metals recycling industry is a significant net contributor to UK balance of trade and contributes more than any other sector to UK ‘end of life’ targets, such as vehicles, packaging, batteries, electrical and electronic equipment. In short, metals recycling protects the environment, saves energy and supports a huge workforce.
Good for the environment
Using scrap metal, also known as secondary raw materials, means less use of precious natural resources which would be needed to make new metal compounds – such as iron ore in steelmaking; nickel in stainless steel; or alumina and bauxite in aluminium smelting.
Virtually all metals can be recycled into high quality new metal. The process varies for different metals but generally recycling produces metals of equivalent quality.
Steelmaking using the electric arc furnace (EAF) method uses scrap metal as the major raw material. EAFs are typically used to produce high-quality tool steels and stainless steel. Smaller quantities of scrap – up to 35 percent – can also be used in the basic oxygen or blast furnace (BOF) method.
Copper scrap is readily used by both primary and secondary producers. In EAFs, for example, around 75-80 percent of the raw material is scrap copper.
Aluminium production, on the other hand, uses a single production method – the Hall-Héroult Process. While primary raw materials require temperatures of around 900°C, scrap or secondary aluminium melts at around 660°C.
In environmental terms, the issue is clear. EU figures indicate that using recycled raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by some 200 million tonnes every year. Using recycled steel to make new steel reduces air pollution by 86 percent, water use by 40 percent and water pollution by 76 percent.
Good for the economy
Metals recycling supplies a major worldwide industry. Despite an economic slowdown and a decline in the steel industry, manufacturing of metals continues contribute significant value to the UK economy. As the national demand slows, export markets are growing.
Last year, 10 million tonnes of metal was recycled in the UK. As the UK produces considerably more scrap than is required for domestic markets, 90 percent was exported worldwide. In fact, the UK is one of the five largest metal scrap exporting countries in the world.
The British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is the trade association representing the £7 billion UK metal recycling sector – a globally competitive industry supplying environmentally-friendly raw material to metals manufacturers.
We represent over 250 organisations working across UK’s £7 billion metal recycling sector. Our members produce environmentally sound raw materials to metals manufacturers around the world. The wider metals recycling industry comprises an estimated 2,500 businesses and employs some 10,000 people.
The industry trades and processes over 10 million tonnes of ferrous and non-ferrous metals every year, including: steel, aluminium and copper. This often sees them recycle a wide range of related products, such as end of life vehicles, packaging, batteries, domestic appliances, building materials and electronic goods.
Membership is open to UK metals recycling companies of good standing that have been in business for at least two years as well as those providing valuable services to this industry from transportation to computer software. All members are expected to abide by the BMRA’s Code of Conduct.
The BMRA’s overarching mission is to promote the metals recycling industry while safeguarding the interests of its member companies. This mission is underpinned by five key objectives:
To be an effective voice for the metals recycling industry in the UK.
To promote the sector to policymakers, customers, suppliers and others.
To steer European and UK legislation.
To help members to understand and respond to changing market conditions, legislation and regulations.
To provide additional services of mutual benefit to its members.
The BMRA’s activities are focused on engaging with key stakeholders while supporting our members to foster a viable and successful metals recycling in the UK.
The BMRA activites are based on three key objectives:
Due to the fast-changing public agenda relating to sustainable use of resources and environmental protection, influencing policy, legislation and resulting regulation is a key priority for the BMRA team. We represent members’ interests on a regional, national and international stage by undertaking a number of activities, including:
- In shaping international and European policies affecting UK businesses
- The application of UK environmental policy and regulation, and related issues
- The UK’s implementation of EU Directives: eg on end of life vehicles, packaging, batteries and WEEE
The BMRA is dedicated to promoting the metals recycling sector in the eyes of the general public and policymakers. To raise awareness of the sector's role in reducing the impact on the environment and increasing the focus on sustainabillity, we undertake a range of aactvities such as:
- Writing articles and giving interviews to the media
- Delivering presentations to businesses, schools, community groups, decision makers, etc.
- Holding regular meetings/contact with policymakers.
Operating in a highly regulated sector, our members face numerous business-led challenges. Alongside regular electronic communications outputs such as FRAGments, a fortnightly newsletter, the BMRA endeavours to offer members as much support in as many areas as possible developing additional member-only benefits and offerings, including:
- Statistics and data covering domestic and international market trends
- Free telephone advice on legislation, regulation and environmental issues
- A permitting and planning support service
- Advice on employment and business issues
- A suite of health, safety and training activities such as a full health and safety manual
- Training for non-core needs (radiation awareness)
- Reduced price insurance and healthcare schemes
- Technical offerings (ferrous scrap specifications)
- Networking events such as On Site Visits and the annual dinner.
The BMRA was formed in 2001 when the British Secondary Metals Association and the British Metals Federation (previously known as the British Scrap Federation) merged in order to better serve the rapidly changing industry.
The role of the trade association became more significant following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 when, in 1935, the government advised that the UK steel industry needed protection from European cartels.
During World War 2 such was the demand placed on scrap supply that merchants were put on the reserved occupation list exempting them from conscription. Then, when the British Iron and Steel Corporation sent buyers to the USA to purchase large quantities of scrap subsequent imports saw stocks rise to ‘alarming levels’ and forced dealers to accept lower prices.
After the war, members of the National Federation of Scrap Iron and Steel Merchants recovered uneconomic dumps of scrap. The austerity years preserved the status of scrap recovery as a matter of national priority and a ‘scrap drive’ campaign was launched to persuade the public to salvage every pound of reclaimable metal. In the late 60s, the scrap revolution began with the industry moving from being labour-intensive to capital-intensive, mechanising the recovery process.
While legislation was passed in 1988 requiring scrap metal recovery to be licensed as a ‘waste disposal’ activity, ten years later the first case was brought on whether certain grades of scrap metal should considered as waste.
In 2013, after a number of years working with policymakers and legislators to ensure that it reflected the needs of the industry as closely as possible, the BMRA was pleased to see the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act come into force. The Act brought tighter licensing requirements into being and banned cash payments for scrap metal.