Scrap Local: The booming Lancashire lockdown business which wants to be the JustEat for scrap metal

With Scrap Local, one of Lancashire’s most fascinating businesses, it’s best to start with the here and now.
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“We connect producers of scrap metal waste to trusted scrap-yards,” explains founder Martin Handley. “We want to do for the industry what JustEat and Uber have done for takeaways and taxis.

“We want to be the world’s most recognised brand for all things scrap,” he adds. “That’s my vision.”

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A start-up which is taking on the established orthodoxy of the scrap and recycling establishment, Scrap Local was born of Martin’s passion for introducing cutting-edge tech to an otherwise staid industry. A decade ago, he was working in scrap with Wallace Reader and Sons, quietly cultivating an interest in website-building and digital marketing.

Sam and Martin in Toronto, Canada for the Collision summitSam and Martin in Toronto, Canada for the Collision summit
Sam and Martin in Toronto, Canada for the Collision summit

Which is where the idea for an online directory for scrap facilities to promote safe and secure recycling came from. Scrap Local’s seeds had taken root, but it still took a few years for the first green shoots to start climbing towards the sunlight.

“I initially left my job to explore lead generation and marketing for the scrap industry in 2016, but Scrap Local wasn’t born immediately,” says Martin, 34. “I was building websites and I’d just had one of my best years in 2018, but I said to my wife that I wanted to put a good couple of years of 100% into my own business to see how everything went.

“I built the website in November 2019 and was just starting to get customers when… lockdown. Kaput,” he says. “But we learned from our mistakes and worked hard on growing pains and came out the other side. That being said, if I’d have known then what I know now about running a business, I’d never have done it, but I’m glad I did!”

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Sustained by his passion for business and his ever-growing Scap Local team, Martin accessed support from Boost, Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub, and set about moving the company into new premises and recruiting new staff as soon as lockdown restrictions allowed. Business picked up and, since then, has boomed.

Scrap LocalScrap Local
Scrap Local

Now working with local councils and the likes of the University of Central Lancashire, Scrap Local was also recently invited to the global Collision Web Summit in Toronto, Canada. One of the event's green tech ‘IMPACT’ companies, Scrap Local appeared alongside other businesses taking strides toward the reduction of carbon emissions and net-zero targets.

“Collision 2022 was a great experience,” says User Experience & Interface Designer Sam Blundell-Roberts. “Exhibiting amongst innovative tech start-ups making a positive impact really validated our hard work. It’s been a slog, but we wouldn’t have been invited to Canada if we hadn’t put in the work, so it’s a major compliment.”

Now looking to develop the concept for the international market, Martin is also actively looking for an investor for scaling his business and to build the international brand. Slowing down now isn’t an option.

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“It’s been hard, but I’d rather put two, three, four, five years of graft in now to save working until I’m 60, because I want to retire when I’m 45,” says Martin. “The more hard work I put in now and get people behind me who believe, the less we’ll all have to work in the future. Everyone’s on the same mission.”

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