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EA takes a closer look at ebay

car parts on eBay
The Environment Agency have been checking out the legitimacy of sellers on eBay.

Anyone who is a legitimate vehicle dismantler has been more than dismayed at the ease at which an illegal operator can sell his parts on eBay, often at a more competitive price as he doesn’t carry anywhere near the same overhead.

MVDA has been concerned with this problem and two years ago prompted the EA to start looking at eBay and to identify illegal dismantlers. As you can imagine, nothing happens quickly when it comes to the EA but after a lot of prompting, they agreed to run a ‘pilot’ exercise. They recently told atfPro that it is starting to get some results.

Earlier this month, the EA revealed to the association the results from their pilot exercise and outlined what they were going to be doing in response.

It is worth bearing in mind, when the MVDA first raised this issue two years ago, illegal ELV sites were a very low priority, due to lack of evidence of a problem. Now, as a result of the MVDA’s efforts, illegal vehicle dismantlers are the 3rd highest priority waste stream. They are under no illusion that the association needs to keep up the pressure, providing evidence wherever possible. One way we can all help is through the anonymous opportunity for anyone, members and non members to notify them of an illegal through their website.

So what has the EA been doing? They launched a small-scale study looking at dismantlers based in just one area of England selling parts on eBay. They selected 50 operators for closer inspection. Working with eBay, which provided detailed information on the parts sold and the value of the sales, the EA focused on 24 of these operations which did not have an Environmental Permit.

In the period 1st January 2016 to 31st March 2016, these 24 operators listed 74,000 parts. Of these they sold 8866 items through eBay with a total value of £1.4 million. This has confirmed to the EA that there is a significant problem.

Delays have occurred in getting the data because the EA needed to check with other law enforcement organisations whether any action was being taken against these people, to ensure that one Government department didn’t cut across another.

Moving forward, the EA is doing a number of things. They are now organising enforcement proceedings against these 24 operators and are also planning to share the information with HMRC. MVDA has also suggested that details are shared with local authorities & Police, as these would be of interest under SMDA13.

The EA is also proposing to expand the project to look at more of the UK. MVDA has already provided hundreds of examples, with eBay user names & addresses etc.

Critically, the EA will be liaising with eBay itself about the use of the platform by illegal vehicle dismantlers, and ways in which this can be prevented. MVDA has already pointed out that at one time eBay was asking (some) dismantlers for information about their SMDA13 registration, but that MVDA was unable to establish contact with eBay to find out how this was working. MVDA has suggested a requirement for business sellers to provide both a SMDA13 registration & a WML/ EP number, which have to be checked before they are able to sell. Also anybody advertising as ‘dismantling or breaking’ a vehicle must be registered as a business seller, and meet the above requirements.

On a final note, MVDA’s Secretary, Dr Chas Ambrose put together some interesting figures. “If the 24 illegal dismantlers sold £1.4 million of parts in 3 months. If you scale this up, this could equate to £5.6 million pa just from this 24. We have no way on knowing how large an eBay operation these were, but if there really are (as we suspect) 1000 illegal dismantlers selling parts on eBay, this could equate to £230 million per year. On the plus side, this is a good result for an ‘industry’ supposed to be in decline!”

Points to a lot of business out there, we just have to make sure it is the legitimate operator who is capitalising on it rather than being penalised for abiding by the law. You can find out more by visiting the MVDA website here.

November 2016

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