Since 2013, it has been illegal to pay cash for waste metal in the UK. The update to the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act was drafted with one purpose – to increase the traceability of the material the metal recycling industry processes and make it easier for the police to catch criminals who were, at the time, stealing metals from church roofs, railways and more.
And it was hugely successful.
In the twelve months following the change in law, theft of this material plummeted by 48 percent.
What role did EMR play in this? Our rigorous processes of data capture means that, since then, all customers are required to open an account – online or in our yards – before they are able to receive payment for the material they supply to us. This includes supplying a photo ID and a proof of residence.
EMR then holds these records securely.
While operating within the law is essential for both EMR and its customers, this change created a significant challenge for an industry that has operated in cash for decades. EMR’s solution has been to provide sole traders and members of the public with three payment options for their material.
Firstly, they can have money paid into their bank account for the next working day. EMR can also provide them with a cheque, then and there. We can also provide immediate payment to these customers by cashing these cheques at our yards, in a way that maintains the high levels of traceability the law requires.
Sole traders can immediately use this money to continue to buy and sell scrap, which is essential if they are to make a living.
To offer this service, EMR works with Cheque Exchange Ltd. As this company only processes cheques from EMR at our sites, the rates for cashing these cheques are significantly lower than those available on the High Street.
It’s an example of how EMR’s decades-long experience allows us to tailor our service to the needs of our customers.
And it’s an area of continued investment. EMR is currently rolling out ATMs at a number of sites so that this service can be offered in a simple, automated and COVID-secure way that gives our customers even more confidence in our service. The first of these ATMs have been installed at: Birmingham, Darlaston, Liverpool Bankhall, Mitcham and Salford.
One of the benefits of being a larger operator is that, wherever an EMR customer is, our payment system is the same. So, if a plumber does one job in Plymouth and another in Gloucester, the experience they will have at either local EMR yard won’t change. That customer will use the same account and can take their material to whichever site is convenient for where they’re working.
And, by depositing material with EMR, these customers also know it will be recycled and re-enter the circular economy at a time when every independent business and member of the public is increasingly thinking about sustainability.
So, while EMR plays its role in helping the police reduce crime (and providing evidence when and if thefts do take place), our commitment to excellent service has led our team to create a payment system which is convenient, simple and consistent across the business.
It’s another example of why EMR is the recycler of choice for individuals, businesses and public sector organisations across the UK.