End of life vehicles (ELVs): guidance for waste sites
How to apply to be an authorised treatment facility (ATF) for ELVs, comply with ELV regulations and meet recycling targets.
1.6 to 2 million vehicles reach the end of their life in the UK each year.
Waste sites must follow special regulations to limit the environmental impact of handling, taking apart and disposing of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs).
An ELV is a vehicle classed as waste. Waste is anything you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard. This includes metal sent for recycling or reuse.
Become an ELV ATF
In England, to treat ELVs at a site you also need:
- planning permission from your local authority
- the correct environmental permit for the specific treatment your site carries out
Contact your local Environment Agency office and tell them you want to deal with ELVs on your site.
Telephone: 03708 506 506 (see call charges)
The Environment Agency will inspect your site. You must ensure it’s secure and that you can:
- store and treat ELVs without harming the environment
- safely remove all hazardous parts including liquids (known as depollution)
- recycle and dispose of ELV parts correctly
If your site and practices are acceptable, the Environment Agency will approve you as an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) for ELVs. Your business name and site details will appear on a public register.
Certificate of destruction (CoD): ATF responsibilities
It’s a legal requirement for all scrap cars to be issued with an official CoD when they reach their useful end of life.
CoDs are for:
- passenger vehicles and light goods vehicles under 3.5 tonnes
- 3-wheeled motor vehicles
Once you’ve decided to depollute/scrap a vehicle you generate a CoD via the DVLA online system. When the Environment Agency tells the DVLA you’ve been accepted as an ATF, DVLA will contact you and tell you how to set up an account on their system.
You must issue the CoD to the vehicle presenter. You should advise the presenter to keep it indefinitely. You should not charge the last holder/owner for the act of issuing a CoD.
The DVLA system automatically updates the vehicle record to reflect a CoD.
If you depollute a vehicle not covered by the regulations, for example, a lorry, motorcycle or motorhome you input the vehicle details and the CoD system will automatically update the details as a notification of destruction and update the vehicle record.
Also take (if available) any V5C certificate document (‘log book’) for the vehicle. Keep these for 12 months for audit purposes and then destroy.
CoD is important – the owner/keeper uses it to prove to the DVLA they have taken their vehicle to a registered ATF waste site and it is no longer on the road.
More information on scrap cars and written off vehicles.
It’s a legal requirement to depollute all ELVs.
To depollute a vehicle, remove the:
- wheels, tyres and lead balance weights
- liquefied gas tank (if present)
- liquids - including fuel, coolants, antifreeze, brake, air-conditioning and shock absorber fluids, and windscreen wash
- oils - including from engine, gearbox, transmission and hydraulic oils
- oil filters - if crushed using special equipment to removes all the oil, you can return the filter to the car as it is then non-hazardous
- parts with mercury, like switches
- catalytic converter
Potentially explosive materials like air bags and seat belt pre-tensioners can either be removed or set off in situ (the recommended option).
You are responsible for ensuring all vehicle materials and liquids are reused, recycled or safely disposed.
Download guidance on Depolluting end-of-life vehicles: guidance for treatment facilities and Removal of LPG tanks.
Always follow health and safety guidance.
Parts for resale
Store in a manner that prevents damage to the part - on racks where possible.
Store any parts from which liquids could escape on an impermeable surface.
Store liquid by type, in separate, clearly labelled leakproof containers. Keep them in a bund to contain spills or leaks.
There are restrictions on mixing hazardous waste. Wastes of the same type, for example different grades of oil, can be stored in the same container but mixing oil with other fluids is only acceptable if authorised by your permit.
Store in clearly labelled, acid-resistant leakproof containers.
Once fully depolluted, keep them on a hardstanding area.
Meet recycling and recovery targets
The recycling and recovery target for ELVs is 95%.
Vehicle manufacturers and importers must meet recycling targets for end of life vehicles. They set up a network where organisations take back their particular make of vehicles at end of life. If an ELV is returned via this scheme there is no charge to the last owner. If you operate within a network take-back obligations are met by vehicle manufacturers and importers.
If you operate outside of a network you must meet recycling targets yourself. If this is the case you don’t have to offer free take-back, it will be a private arrangement. You complete your pre-populated annual form with the recycling rates you achieved. You must send it to Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) by 1 July each year. Contact Defra:
Telephone: 03459 33 55 77
Find more information on ELV producer registration.
Most vehicles are taken to shredders for separation of the materials (plastic, foam, textiles, wood, rubber and metal) present in scrap cars. A significant proportion of these materials are recycled.
The burning of shredder residues in a way that the energy is used effectively can also count towards end-of-life vehicle (ELV) recovery targets.
To count towards recovery targets (by energy recovery) it must either be used as a fuel in co-incineration plants (for example, making cement) or burnt in an R1 classified waste incinerator.
The Environment Agency accepts residues from shredding facilities being classed as non-hazardous waste where the residues have arisen exclusively from depolluted ELVs and other non-hazardous feedstock. This must be demonstrated in a waste transfer note.
See Waste: import and export guidance.
Inspections and compliance
An Environment Agency officer will inspect your site regularly. You will get a written report after each visit that records and scores any breaches of your permit. The more scores you receive, the higher your annual fee will be. Higher scoring sites will get more Environment Agency inspections than lower scoring ones.
It’s an offence not to comply with the conditions of your permit or the regulations.
See the legislation and regulations:
Find more information specific to:
For information on pre-treatment and dismantling see the online information system IDIS.
Published: 15 April 2014
Updated: 8 April 2016
- From 1 April 2016 businesses no longer need to register as a hazardous waste producer - content on this requirement removed.
- First published.