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House Clearance Edinburgh Service Update:
The first six months of the new house clearance year here in Edinburgh have just flown by. This is the ideal opportunity to sit back and take stock of the happenings during the last six months. One of the main events was the Environment Agency introduction of card type waste carrier licences for house clearance companies in Edinburgh to carry around in their persons. As can be seen in this issue’s Newsdesk. One thing is for sure, the quango is a force to be reckoned with, and hopefully will help rather than hinder the work of the house clearance industry in Edinburgh & the rest of UK, despite the initial controversy over unarmed combat lessons for site inspectors scared of cowboy house clearance operators.
Changes were on the cards for some trade associations: the UK House Clearance Association gained a lot of new members and a more dynamic public profile; while rumours of a merger between two of Edinburghs largest waste transfer stations were well and truly scotched. The National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors also changed its name to the Environmental Services Association; and who could forget the attempts to rid the house clearance industry in Edinburgh of the phrase ‘man and van’.
The market for recycled paper in Edinburgh has suffered some dramatic lows: one major new paper mill even went under due to enormous losses. Some commentators even suggested that paper recycling was a threat to the environment as less trees may be planted. The latest bombshell for the non-ferrous industry is the copper price collapse. The repercussions of this fiasco will be felt for many months to come, as, it seems that copper prices have been artificially high for the last decade. One can only hope that no other skeletons are set to fly out the cupboard when the investigations into the copper market manipulation are complete. The full impact of the impending Landfill Tax, which comes into force on 1st October is still unclear. One fact is pretty obvious though: most house clearance companies in this country will not know what has hit them when increased waste disposal bills start to flood in. This could be a welcome boost for the recycling industry especially in Edinburgh. Another piece of legislation which could have a major effect on some sections of the house clearance industry is the new ruling on special waste, which we will be covering in greater detail when the final facts are available this autumn.
Rumour and speculation has surrounded the house clearance industry in recent times. Highly fluctuating scrap metal prices give the surest indication of the chaos which has afflicted many people’s livelihoods. There seem to be two problems affecting the international copper trade: illegal trading and the EU policy of intervention. The Hamanaka scandal which hit the news on may have affected the London Metal Exchange copper prices for the last ten years. More stringent regulation of metals trading looks likely, although no one seems certain about what form any action would take, or whether this type of illegal market manipulation could be avoided without drastic changes to the way the LME works.
One of the first clues to the latest fiasco was the European Union announcement that it was investigating the workings of the international copper market. In the Official Journal of the European Communities dated 22nd May, scrap was described as ‘a crucial source of raw material’ for the European processing industry. Once again the EU seems to have changed its mind about the international importance of the copper trade. A few years ago, copper was considered to be of strategic importance and could not be traded completely freely. When this restriction was eventually lifted following industry complaints, secondary copper was classed as waste and therefore subject to Basel Convention rules on its transportation. Yet again the international trade in copper was restricted. Now it looks likely that scrap copper could be transported relatively freely under the Basel Convention, the EU has moved the goal posts again. One thing is for sure: both the Hamanaka trading scandal and European intervention will continue to affect the way copper and other non-ferrous metals are traded especially by house clearance operators here in Edinburgh. The rogue trading disaster gives the regulators the ideal excuse to try to control international trade in copper and other metals, especially as the amount of media interest it attracted was so great. While most house clearance services & metal dealers welcome some protection against such dramatic fluctuations in the copper prices, if the regulators use the situation as an excuse to ban trade between certain countries, then more problems could result.
As the opposition party now control the vast majority of Edinburgh local council and the rest of Scotland for that matter, it is perhaps not surprising that councils are increasingly critical of Government policy. Edinburgh Council are voicing their dissatisfaction with the Environment Agency, which has replaced the old Waste Regulation Authority along with every other WRA in the country. Edinburgh is Labour controlled, so criticisms of this latest quango are perhaps to be expected. However, they certainly have a point. The Conservative Government has effectively taken some power away from mainly labour controlled councils. Opinion will undoubtedly be divided as to whether this is a benefit.
Interestingly enough, the new Chairman of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, is from Tory-controlled Arun District Council. Considering the small proportion of Tory controlled councils, this raises some intriguing ideas. Do right wing local authorities have more of an interest in recycling & house clearance than left-wing ones? Does a council’s political persuasion affect their house clearance recycling policy? The crucial question is: which party in local authority control has the best house clearance recycling record? Ideas on this matter are more than welcome. When political tit for tat wrangling between central and local government adversely affects the house industry especially here in Edinburgh, then the only response is: enough is enough. Leave it out!
Another controversial issue examined in this issue’s local authority feature is the furore surrounding the house clearance waste costs report on recycling costs in Edinburgh. Debate is heated on this subject and local authority recycling officers are in the thick of it. This is another example of a misleading report on recycling, supposedly from an authoritative stance, making a mess of the facts. Yet again the Edinburgh house clearance industry will have to pick up the pieces. For once, the local authorities are involved too.