Doing things right. Legal aspects of collecting scrap metal and can you be fined for doing so?

Picking up items from the waste for reusing is nothing new. But are you doing it lawfully?

The answer entirely depends on your locality as your local council decides the law around salvaging scrap metals.

Precautions to be taken while scrap metal collection

In case you spot something in someone’s pile, and you want to take it for your usage, you have to ensure to seek his permission. You cannot trespass anyone’s area, and you should be careful while picking up any material. In case you pick up something, but then you change your mind, and you do not want to take it; as a law-abiding citizen make sure that you keep it back at the same place.

If you are picking up any breakable item, you should do it carefully. Many councils refrain from collecting loose metals, and ruins of broken glasses.

While most of the councils do not have any issues with your collecting useful items from the solid waste, Consumer Affairs Victoria has implemented specific laws which you must abide if want to purchase scrap metal or motor vehicle.

To get a better idea of the laws and regulations on dealing with scrap metal, let us see what is scrap metal and the different dos and don’ts of purchasing scrap metals.

What is scrap metal?

Scrap metal includes anything of commercial value that contains metal or is made from metal and is sold or acquired as scrap for reprocessing.

It includes a motor vehicle, or the parts of it – the body, engine, and chassis which is either sold or obtained as scrap. The parts might or might not be in working condition.

According to the new scrap metal collection laws and regulations, scrap metal includes any item by weight which contains:

  • 2% or less of gold or silver, and
  • 80% or less of copper.

In case goods do not meet the criteria of scrap metal, they will be considered as second-hand goods or motor car. And, if you are purchasing such products, you will have to comply with the additional laws of second-hand goods under the Act. However, unlike scrap metal deals, you will be free to make the dealing in cash.

Collecting scrap metals and selling them at a cost is not possible since the new law introduced in May 2018. As per this law, for dealing in scrap metal one needs to be registered as a second-hand dealer through the Business Licensing Authority (BLA), and he cannot do any dealing in cash.

So, while purchasing scrap metals, make sure that you are buying from registered Blacktown scrap metal dealers or the registered dealers of your specific locality only and make payments through electronic transfer or via cheque.

As a dealer, you also need to maintain records of each scrap metal that you purchase. Your records should contain details of the item(s), details of the sellers, and the proof of payment made.

When can you be fined for purchasing scrap metal?

As per the new law, police can enter your area without a warrant, if he suspects you of dealing in scrap metals.

He can charge you with different amounts of fine in case he finds out:

  • You purchase or sell scrap metals in cash.
  • You own or have purchased an unidentified vehicle.
  • You do not have the recordings of your purchase.
  • You are trying to mislead the police with false information.
  • You are dealing with scrap metals without registering yourself as a second-hand dealer.

For some of the above cases, the police can impose on-spot fine too.

So, it is advisable to abide by the laws and regulations of the council.

These new laws have been derived by Consumer Affairs Victoria who has worked closely with major industry stakeholders, AMRIA (Australian Metal Recycling Industry Association), the VACC (Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce), and Victoria Police.

The purpose of these new laws and reforms is to break the harmony between the scrap metal and vehicle recycling industries and organized crime.

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