How are cars recycled?

Your old car has come to the end of its life and it's time to say goodbye. It might be a failed MOT or an eye-watering repair bill that finally prompts you to take action, but whatever the reason, it's important to get your vehicle disposal right.

Car disposal is a complicated process, requiring a large degree of professional expertise. A car that has now reached the end of its life will go through a number of stages in the recycling process.

Firstly, it will need to go to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). These are licensed and regulated by the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Natural Resources Wales, ensuring that scrap cars are recycled in line with the latest legislation.

At the ATF, the car will then go through three stages.


The car will have all the potentially hazardous materials and components safely removed. This is a crucial stage and one reason why it's important to ensure you use a reputable vehicle scrap service. Cars contain a number of materials that could be harmful to the environment. Antifreeze, batteries, windscreen wash, oil and fuel all represent an environmental and human health risk if handled incorrectly.


After hazardous materials have been removed, the car will be dismantled. Catalytic converters contain precious metals which will be removed and made available for re-use in things like pharmaceuticals, electronics and even jewellery. Tyres can be shredded, turned into pellets and used as football pitch flooring. Windscreen glass could become an ornament or used in builders sand.


It sounds dramatic, but destruction means the now empty metal shell of the car will be crushed and sent to a metal mill. The steel will be separated from other materials such as plastic using magnetic separation techniques. A thin layer of tin that helps to prevent rust from developing is added to most cars. This is removed by placing the scrap in a solution of hot caustic soda which dissolves the tin layer. Then a variety of methods are used to recover the tin ready for re-use.

Now the steel can be placed into a furnace to be melted down. It's then refashioned into flat sheets. Due to the strength of steel, this can be done repeatedly without it losing any of its strength. It can be reused again in construction or even in the manufacture of a new car.

Thinking “how can I scrap my car?” if so, reach out to us today for a free quote!

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