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The History of Steel Recycling in the UK

Steel is a vital component to a number of important machines, structures and objects. Whether it is being used for cars, the construction of buildings or more menial, day-to-day products, the steel industry is as lucrative as it is relevant. With the importance of steel abundantly clear, the importance of steel recycling is just as significant, and it has been for a number of decades. To explain the relevance of the steel recycling industry over the years, Craddock Metal Recycling detail the history of this sector and the meaningfulness of steel recycling.

The Wall Street Crash

On the backdrop of the Wall Street Crash in 1929, the British government proclaims that the UK steel industry is in need of protection from European cartels. As the coal, steel and iron were among the industries which were affected the most, the uK government sought to protect these industries at all cost, shielding them from European counterparts. From this point onwards, the importance and significance of the industry became apparent, and a greater effort would be made to ensure the health of the sector.

World War II

Due to the nature of the great war, steel recycling and metal recycling became such a prevalent industry. Particularly in the case of steel recycling, scrap merchants were seen as such a vital piece of the puzzle for winning the war that they became exempt from conscription. To cope with the strains of the war, the UK Steel and Iron industry began to purchase large quantities of steel from America, a move which saw stocks rise to an abhorrent level, which subsequently forced dealers to accept lower prices.

The Austerity Years

In an effort to recover and rebuild after WWII, scrap recycling is seen as an absolute necessity, and a campaign is launched to urge the public to scrap any waste materials. These materials are subsequently used to rebuild structures, craft essential products and start a mass rebuilding project.

The Late 60’s

As the UK leaves an era of austerity and begins to enter a period of prosperity, the steel recycling industry starts to shift towards being labour-driven and begins to capitalise on the lucrative nature on the industry. Campaigns now seer away from the rebuilding process and now persuade the public to recycle their steel for cash incentives.


Towards the end of the 80’s, a legislation is drawn up to make metal recovery licensed as a waste disposal activity. Discussions are subsequently held to define which grades of metal should be deemed as waste.

Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

In an attempt to prevent metal theft which can then be sold on for cash, dealers are now ordered to take the details of the seller and record it, instead of paying by cash. On the whole, scrap metal merchants see this as a positive move and beneficial for the industry.

Craddock Metal Recycling are industry leaders for steel recycling and metal recycling. For more information on all of our products and services, contact us today on 01527 668 66 or leave us a message via our online form.