High court rules that processed metals should be classified as raw materials

A UK scrap metal recycler has won its High Court challenge to the UK Government's interpretation of the EU definition of waste, bringing British metals recycling regulations in line with the US, Japan and Austria.


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The British High Court ruled this week that fully processed ferrrous and non-ferrous scrap metal should not be categorised as waste, but should be regarded as raw material under British law.

The British Metals Federation (BMF) and the International Bureau of Recycling (IBR) had backed Mayer Parry Recycling’s case against the UK Environment Agency, which defined all kinds of secondary metals as waste.

The British secondary metals industry had opposed the 1994 EU framework directive on waste management, arguing that certain categories of metal should be classified as raw materials rather than waste.

The BMF hailed the ruling as “a crucial judicial confirmation for the UK industry” and anticipated significant changes throughout the EU with regard to the status of recycled finished products.

BMF President Peter Mathews explained ” I view the result as a huge step forward for the industry. Ten million tonnes of processed metals annually in the UK are at long last recognised legally for what they are – a raw material. It is now reasonable to expect the European Union to embrace this judgement and declare that all metals which have been processed or are in a condition for use as a raw material, are not waste.”

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