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How to Recycle Your Old Car

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 28 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
How To Recycle Your Old Car

Cars have a limited lifespan. When a car has damage that isn’t worth repairing, or worn parts too costly to replace, it’s time to dispose of it.

For years, old or crashed cars went to scrap yards. Here they underwent a form of recycling. Motorists looking for parts would strip these from the piled vehicles in the yards. Eventually, the scrap yard owners would compress what remained into metal cubes and sell these for industrial use.


The End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations 2003 introduced a more formal process for car recycling. Under the terms of the regulations, vehicle producers must have systems in place to collect, treat and dispose of cars. The aim is to recover, reuse and recycle as many car components as possible.

The regulations follow on the heels of an EU Directive. This demands the reuse and recycling of end-of-life vehicles.

Since 2003, further amendment regulations have appeared in the UK. They include:

  • Obliging vehicle makers to seek government approval of vehicle collection and disposal schemes
  • Recovery, recycling and reuse targets
  • Procedures for reporting reuse and recycling rates
  • The clarification of exemptions and restrictions to the recycling of certain materials
  • Power for authorities to inspect car recycling facilities

For the Motorist

What this means for the motorist is straightforward. When a car reaches the end of its life, the owner must recycle it. To do this, such an owner must arrange to take his or her car to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF).


ATFs must comply with the End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations and the Environmental Permitting Regulations. The latter regulations date from 2007. They cover waste management licensing and the control and prevention of pollution. They bring together previous legislation on these topics under one legal heading.


Once an ATF receives a car, it removes and treats all hazardous material. It then passes on as much of the vehicle as it can for recycling. The EU Directive for end-of-life vehicles set a recycling target for the UK. By 2015, ATFs must recover 95% of an end-of-life vehicle. In practice, this means that each year ATFs must treat, recover and recycle 95% of the components of two million cars.

Certificate of Destruction

To recycle a car, a motorist needs to drive it to the nearest ATF. If the car isn’t roadworthy, an ATF can usually arrange to pick it up. Once the car is at an ATF, the owner must complete the relevant sections of the registration document, V5C. This passes responsibility for the car to the ATF.

The ATF then gives the former owner a certificate of destruction (CoD). Sometimes the CoD comes through the post at a later date. If so, the former owner should ask for a receipt for the car when he or she passes it on to the ATF.

Cost and Value

Anyone who takes a car to an ATF may face a charge for recycling. On the other hand, the value of the components of an end-of-life car may accumulate. The former owner may then receive a payment.

To clarify the cost or value of a particular make and model of end-of-life car, it is best to contact a local ATF. The staff can give professional advice.

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The old car is completely recycled and makes more steel. Hopefully the new car will save a lot of fuel.
Sammy Mull - 28-Mar-13 @ 1:30 AM
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