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UK told not to ape new EU waste shipment proposals

British metal recyclers are being urged to lobby their Government to ensure that the EU’s proposed new waste shipments regulations are not copied in the UK.

The call to action came from Susie Burrage, president of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) at the organisation’s dinner. She told her members because European countries are key destinations for their raw materials from recycling (RMR), these proposals could have severe consequences for the UK metals recycling industry.

Although the proposals have yet to be adopted, and may take up to five years before being fully implemented, it was important to ensure that the UK, now outside the EU, does not embrace its approach, Burrage said.

‘Naturally, EuRIC, with our support, has been lobbying hard for months, warning EU leaders over the potentially disastrous effects of a blanket restriction on exports of RMR – the correct name for our furnace-ready scrap metal,’ she pointed out, adding that the Bureau of International Recycling was concerned in the global arena. Without Government financial support, she insisted, there would never be enough capacity within the UK to use all the RMR produced.

The president called on BMRA members to highlight they were part of an industry estimated to have a total sales revenue of £7 billion (EUR 8.3 billion), that processes around 10 million tonnes of scrap metal every year and employs some 15 000 people.

‘We must emphasise that we meet all domestic demand but also strongly support the country’s balance of trade through significant exporting activity.’ And she warned: ‘If, the UK Government did, impose restrictions on exports, or impose other trade impediments such as tariffs or the specification of higher quality criteria, make no mistake it would be very problematic for our industry.’

Government officials, she reported, had indicated they were not planning to follow the blueprint of the EU in the imposition of restrictions or tariffs on scrap exports but had conceded in meetings with BMRA officials that UK steel mills had talked to them about their costs and the quality of their input scrap. ‘This is how it began in the EU so UK Government interference in our markets, is still, therefore, a possibility in the longer term.’

Other issues raised by Burrage during her speech included VAT fraud, the emergence of fake catalytic converters, fears over shredder residue being deemed ‘hazardous’ and the loss of the entitlement to use red (off-road) diesel from April 2022.

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