The Downside of High Metal Prices
Edie is reporting today that soaring scrap metal prices have lead to thefts from recycling plants and buildings. This confirmed my suspicion that the market was experiencing a boom – in my neighbourhood, manhole covers have recently gone missing and a children’s frieze cast in copper was cut up and removed from the local park. It seems a long way from a couple of years ago when the low value of scrap metal was leading to cars being dumped by the roadside by unscrupulous owners wanting to avoid small charges to dispose of their vehicles.
As well as encouraging crime and anti-social behaviour, these severe fluctuations in recyclate prices make operating in the recycling market difficult. Recycling companies keep their gate fees high to mitigate risk, leading to lower recycling rates. This is not well understood by waste producers – I often find myself explaining to small companies that there is little chance that recyclers will collect their waste for free.
Help may come from the Government’s announcement of a steep rise in landfill tax – ramping up from the current standard rate of £24/tonne for active wastes (those that give off emissions) to £48/t in 2010/11. This will bring a large number of recycling opportunities into economic viability and, hopefully, help stabilise recyclate markets.