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Scrap metal compliance: the regulations you need to know

The scrap metal recycling industry is hugely varied, made up of everything from small, family run firms to international corporations.

It’s also a heavily regulated industry, and regardless of the size of your firm, scrap metal dealers need to stay on top of a wide range of different legislation to maintain compliance, with stiff penalties if they’re found to have operated outside of the rules.

B4B Payments’ Bread4Scrap card helps scrap metal recycling companies stay compliant with regards to buying scrap metal, but there’s lots more to be aware of. Here are the main areas of legislation affecting scrap metal dealers in the UK:

The Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013

In 2013, 2% of all police-recorded crime in England and Wales was related to metal theft. The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act was brought into try and combat this trend. The main elements of the legislation (and similar rules brought in slightly later in Scotland) are as follows:

Licensing of scrap metal traders – The legislation requires that all scrap metal traders hold a license issued by their local authority. Those found trading without a licence face a fine of up to £5000. While the specific regulations in Scotland are slightly different, the main principles are the same. Scrap metal dealers must hold a Metal Dealer’s license issued by their local council, and must keep records of the scrap metal they handle or face a fine. 

Payments for scrap metal – The Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013 also bans cash payments for scrap metal, requiring buyers to pay via cheque, bank transfer or another electronic funds transfer Legislation introduced in Scotland in 2016 also banned the payment of cash for scrap metal in the same way.  

Identity verification – In England, Wales and Scotland, scrap metal dealers must verify the identity of anybody they buy scrap from. This means seeing a valid photo ID like a passport or driver’s license, as well as separate proof of address in the form of a utility bill or bank statement. 


While the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act is the most obvious piece of legislation affecting scrap dealers, the requirement to verify the identity of sellers also increases their responsibilities under the GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulations, with risk of a fine of up to 4% of turnover if they’re not compliant. 

By requiring scrap metal traders to hold copies of their sellers’ identity documents, as well as potentially holding bank details for making bank transfer payments, the regulations place a lot of responsibility onto scrap metal businesses to keep their clients’ data safe and secure from theft or cyber-attack, as well as to ensure that information is only held for as long as necessary. 

While GDPR compliance can seem complicated, the basic principles of data security are fairly simple: ensure that any information on your sellers is held securely, either in a locked filing cabinet or in a secure digital format like a password-protected cloud drive, and ensure that only the people within your organisation who have a need to access this data are able to do so. You should also ensure you have a retention policy in place and periodically clean up old data – the Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act requires that records are kept for three years, after which documents should be securely destroyed or deleted. The Information Commissioner’s Office offers plenty of advice on how to ensure GDPR compliance and hold customer data securely.

Environmental regulations

As well as the legal aspects of physically buying scrap metal, traders have a range of responsibilities for how they handle and dispose of materials which could be hazardous to people or to the environment. 

You may need additional permits to handle scrap metal contaminated with hazardous materials, including radioactive materials, plastic, rubber or oil. Special waste such as battery casings, aerosols, fluorescent tubes or waste oil filters may also require that you meet additional compliance requirements when storing, transporting, treating and disposing of it. The End of Life Vehicle Regulations 2004 also require special handling of scrap vehicles to ensure that brake fluid, fuel, oil and other pollutants are removed and stored appropriately. 

Health and Safety

Last but not least, employers have a duty to their employees under Health and Safety regulations, and the realities of the scrap metal trade mean that there are numerous potential hazards that need to be managed to keep workers safe. Scrap metal dealers need to be aware of the potential risks in their business premises, from manual handling and working at height to fire or explosion risks and the potential hazards associated with operating specialist machinery.

Health and Safety breaches carry tough penalties in the UK, with the average health and safety fine in 2018/19 reaching £150,000, and over £54million in total fines issued. That’s not including the potential loss of productivity if employees get hurt, as well as the potential damage to your business’s reputation if things go badly wrong. 

 While Health and Safety gets a bad rap in the UK, compliance is largely based on common sense, and the stereotype of over-eager health and safety measures is mostly untrue. In fact, good Health and Safety management can help to make your business run more efficiently, ensuring that workers are trained in the safest, more effective ways of working and preventing lost productivity and delays due to sub-optimal working practices. 

Get a head start on compliance with Bread4Scrap by B4B Payments

With so many different compliance areas to juggle, scrap metal recycling businesses have a lot on their plates. Thankfully, Bread4Scrap from B4B Payments can take some of the pressure off. By paying scrap metal sellers on a flexible prepaid card, you can ensure you’re compliant with Home Office regulations banning cash payments and, because Bread4Scrap handles customer verification checks for you when a user first activates their card, there’s no need to process or store sensitive information like copies of identity documents, making your GDPR compliance smoother too. 

Thousands of scrap metal recycling agents across the UK trust Bread4Scrap to make simple and secure cashless payments. With the ability to make fully compliant payments in minutes and no hidden fees, our system helps you stay in line with regulation and deliver an excellent customer experience. 

To find out more about how Bread4Scrap could work for you, get in touch today. 

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Reasons why you should choose prepaid cards over fuel cards

With fuel costs surging, it’s no surprise that fleet owners are taking steps to track and control their spend levels. Fuel cards are a big industry – it’s estimated to grow to over $2.5 trillion by 2030

While for larger fleets, specific fuel cards can be a useful way of managing mileage and maintenance scheduling, a specific system for fuel can be overkill for smaller businesses. Here are some reasons you might want to consider an all-in-one solution for your transport expense management, and opt for a prepaid card scheme instead of a fuel card:

More flexible 

Fuel cards do what they say on the tin – they’re used to purchase fuel. However, your drivers will incur a range of different expenses while they’re on the road, from food and subsistence to accommodation, tolls and even emergency repairs. 

The benefit of a B4B Payments prepaid expense card is that it can be used in millions of locations worldwide, on a huge range of different products and services. This means your team can carry a single payment card for all their company expenses. 

Some fuel cards are also linked to a specific chain of petrol stations, potentially forcing your team to go out of their way and rack up unnecessary mileage to find a participating station. A B4B prepaid card works just like an ordinary debit card, so it can be used in millions of locations worldwide.

Consolidated reporting

Managing expenses can be a time-consuming process for your finance team – collecting spend data from multiple systems is inefficient and can result in mistakes if information has to be manually copied from one place to another. 

With a single prepaid card to manage all your company expenses, your data will all be accessible from a single easy-to-use reporting platform. With easy categorisation of expenses and seamless integration into accounting platforms like Sage or Xero, your team will save countless hours on manual data entry which they can spend on analysing trends and spotting opportunities to make savings instead. 

Virtual cards

If your team member loses their fuel card, this can put them in a difficult situation. They (or you) will need to contact the card issuer to have it blocked, and will have to pay for their fuel themselves and claim back their expenses later. If your driver doesn’t have the available balance in their own accounts to do this, they’re stuck. 

With prepaid B4B cards, you have full control. Lost or stolen cards can be blocked instantly by your own team from within the management portal, or cardholders can do this themselves via the cardholder app. Replacing a B4B card is also much easier than replacing a fuel card – new card details can be sent out virtually and used over Apple or Google Pay on your team member’s phone, so there’s no need for them to cover the cost of fuel or other expenses themselves. 

Budget Control

A big difference between most fuel cards and B4B’s prepaid cards is that fuel cards operate on a credit basis – your usage is charged to you in arrears after its been spent. This can cause problems for your cashflow if expenses are higher than average one month. 

With prepaid cards, it’s only possible to spend the balance on the card, and there’s no credit facility, so it’s not possible to overspend. If your team needs additional funds you can load these instantly, but you’ll know about this in advance so there’ll be no nasty surprises at the end of the month. 

Lower fees

Depending on the volume of vehicles and mileage, prepaid cards can be better value than fuel cards. While at scale, fuel cards can help companies save by offering a discount on fuel costs, there are also a number of fees associated with holding a fuel card, from an annual charge per vehicle to a minimum usage level and surcharges for using them for things like motorway toll roads. 

B4B prepaid cards have no hidden fees and no minimum spend, so for smaller fleets or lower mileage requirements, you could find that the lower running costs offset the fuel discount you’d receive from a fuel card. 

Streamline your fleet expenses with B4B Payments

If you’re running a smaller fleet of vehicles or employing casual drivers, B4B Payments’ prepaid cards could help you take the stress out of managing your fleet expenses. With greater flexibility than a fuel card and no hidden fees, a prepaid card scheme could help you save time and money on fuel and driver expenses.

Find out more by visiting our dedicated page or alternatively completing our form HERE.

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Creating innovative and seamless payment experiences

A survey by JP Morgan showed that 90% of respondents believed that payments are integral to the customer experience.

In the same survey, 52% or European executives said that the most important factor for payment experiences was that it was easy to use, quick, and frictionless.

There’s obvious logic there – if payments are easy and feel effortless, there’s less likelihood that customers will reconsider or give up on their purchases before completing their transaction, increasing conversion rates. 

It’s easy to talk about how payments should be frictionless, but what does that actually mean? We’ve set out the main priorities businesses should be focussed on to ensure that their payment processes feel effortless to customers, for the highest possible conversion and customer lifetime value. 

Start with user needs

While it’s hard not to get excited about the huge range of new payment technology hitting the market every year, it is important to take a step back and take a pragmatic look at what your customers actually need in terms of payment options. Often, simpler experiences are the smoothest ones, and trying to over-engineer your payment options to cover every eventuality might not have the effect on your customer experience you were hoping for. 

Think carefully about the journey your customers or clients go through when they work with you, and the experience of making or receiving payments from their perspective. Consider carrying out interviews, focus groups or user testing to figure out where the biggest sticking points are, and use this insight to improve your processes. 

Not only can understanding your users help you tailor simple things like the payment providers you offer, it could help spark ideas for more innovative offerings. For example, Swedish FinTech startup Juni created a system designed specifically to support ecommerce businesses after their own experiences juggling card payments across multiple online advertising platforms. 

Integrate for seamless experiences

Delivering seamless payment experiences for users can help to maximise conversion, reducing the risk of failures when customers are redirected to third party sites, and reducing the friction and visual jolt of being shifted somewhere else. 

Integrating payment features directly into your website, using an API to connect to a payment provider rather than pushing your users to their own website to complete payment, requires a greater level of tech investment than simply redirecting to a third party, but the resulting increase in conversion rate could more than pay for the up-front cost. 

Integrated payments don’t have to be online-only, either. Accelerated by COVID low-contact policies, businesses like restaurants are also seeing the benefit of innovative payment options, such as QR codes on bills which allow customers to individually pay their share on their phones via Google or Apple Pay, giving real-time notification to the restaurant that the bill has been settled and getting customers on their way faster without having to wait for a card machine to be brought to the table. 

Focus on accessibility

Accessibility is a key priority for designing seamless payment experiences. Good accessibility doesn’t just make your payments process easier for those with disabilities – it improves the experience for everybody. High-profile organisations like Gov.UK have invested in making their payment systems more accessible, while payment providers like Paypal have built a reputation for thought leadership around accessibility. 

From basic accessibility features like ensuring your payment system is easy to use with screen readers to accommodations for those with cognitive disabilities like dyslexia or dyscalculia, there are lots of factors to consider, and it could be worth getting specialist advice on ways to make your platform more accessible. However, at a base level, things like using image alt text, clearly describing any video or audio content, and ensuring that your payment screens are clearly laid out and display well on both desktop and mobile can help make your system more accessible for all your customers. 

Prioritise security and compliance

It’s worth emphasising that while consumers value seamless experiences, they’re no less focussed on data security, and the safety of their payment details remains a concern. 51% of respondents to a Paysafe survey in late 2020 said that they’d use any type of security measure if it meant their purchase was secure. 

With this in mind, it’s important not to compromise security in the name of innovation. While Open Banking and other embedded finance technologies are increasing the security of online payments, payment providers and retailers alike have a responsibility to keep customers safe. 

If you’re building a more innovative or advanced payment feature, chances are you’ll be taking on some form of compliance responsibility, and this can mean lengthy and costly license applications. Instead of going it alone, consider whether partnering with a BIN sponsor like B4B Payments could help you get your offering to market quicker. Working with a BIN sponsor means you can launch your offering leveraging your sponsor’s own licenses and authorisations, and that they’ll also shoulder much of the responsibility for ensuring security and regulatory compliance, from providing pre-built policies to supporting with fraud monitoring and detection. 

Deliver a seamless payment proposition with B4B Payments

Whether you’re building a custom embedded finance solution for your own customers, or creating a FinTech offering to serve a wider audience, B4B Payments is here to help, with expert support and 15 years’ experience in FinTech innovation. To find out about how our end-to-end payment solutions or our next-generation BIN Sponsorship 2.0 offering could help you revolutionise your payments, get in touch today.