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Scrap Metal Laws in the UK

Following a string of scrap metal thefts, the UK Government clamped down on scrap metal recycling laws. This ensured that dealing was fair both for the customer and the merchant. This article will detail the legal acts introduced by the government and how they impact scrap metal dealing.

assortment of scrap metal for recycling

Scrap Metal Dealers Act (2013)

The scrap metal dealers act was introduced in 2013 to curb metal theft. The Government Home Office reported 61,349 metal theft offences in 2013, which corresponded to 2% of all police-recorded crime in England and Wales for this period. 

In response, the government passed legislation with the following rules:

  • A licence is required for metal trading and must be issued by the local authority.
  • Any site that is caught trading without a licence may be fined up to £5000.
  • Payments cannot be made in cash. All payments must be made through electronic bank transfer or cheque.
  • Records of a seller’s name and address must be retained, as well as a record of the receipt of the metal.

Environmental Regulations

Regulations have also come into effect to mitigate environmental harms. This is to ensure that metal is traded and disposed of in a way that protects the environment and those handling the materials.

  • Scrap metal dealers must obtain a Certificate of Conformity, which proves that the site and business comply with EU waste regulations.
  • A pollution prevention and control permit, waste management licence or registered exemption is required for any dealers that store, treat, recover or dispose of scrap metal waste.
  • All scrap metal should be examined for signs of contamination. Hazardous or contaminated scrap metal may be classed as hazardous/special waste and must comply with the corresponding environmental guidance.


A license certifies that the holder is legally allowed to engage in scrap metal trading. There are two main types of licence for standard scrap metal dealing — a site licence and a mobile collector’s licence.

  • A site licence is required for businesses that engage in scrap metal dealing on site. It must be visibly displayed on every site identified in the licence.
  • A mobile collector’s licence permits the holder to collect scrap, either from a home or from another business. The licence authorises the holder to operate as a mobile collector in the area of the issuing local authority. The licence must be displayed on any vehicle that is being used during the collection process.

Remember, without these licences, it’s illegal to collect scrap metal from others. That includes going door-to-door to ask for spare metal items.

Hill Metal Recycling provide fully-licensed and reputable scrap metal recycling services to customers throughout Harlow, Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas.

We’ve been trading for over 25 years and always comply with changing regulations. We’re also affiliated with the DVLA and Environment Agency to ensure we recycle our scrap metal using non-harmful methods.

If you’d like to enquire about our services, including our 24-hour scrap collection service, get in touch today