As Britain’s £5bn-a-year scrap industry is facing tougher regulation one of the UK’s leading plumbing manufacturers is urging installers to consider non-metal alternatives.
Gareth Samuel, Product Manager for Hep2O – the UK’s most popular plastic plumbing system – says, “When we talk to our customers about the issues that have an impact on their day to day lives, it is no surprise that metal theft is often top of the list. It may seem obvious to state that risks associated with keeping plastic pipe in the yard or on the van are going to much, much less than if you’re using a lot of metal, but we were surprised how many have first-hand experience.
Whether it’s the van being damaged, the lock-up broken into or an installation being ruined through flooding; the theft of pipe is always a massive hassle”.
“As there is no scrap value in plastic pipe – thieves are not going to target it when it’s already installed; nor when it’s in plain sight around site or at a stockist. One issue installers have raised is the risk of installing copper when refurbishing buildings.
If the property is empty it is a prime target for thieves. This does seem to be driving many traditional copper users to use plastic in these circumstances. Metal theft is seriously damaging the business of our customers and we fully support the calls to crack down on scrap metal sales,” continues Gareth.
Gareth points out that the problem of metal theft is dogging the trade as any online forum on the subject shows. About 15,000 tonnes of metal are stolen every year, which the Association of Chief Police Officers estimates costs the UK economy £770m every year.
Now Home Office minister Lord Henley says people selling scrap could be required to register and face identity checks and that cash payments could be banned, to make metal transactions easier to trace.
“While thieves melting down priceless sculptures and plaques from war memorials make the headlines it’s important to remember that these crimes affect tradesmen badly too,” points out Gareth.