End Of Life Vehicles:
Every year in the UK approximately 2 million cars reach their end of their life. This may be because they have been involved in an accident leading them to be classed as a write-off, or they may have merely become old, irreparable and obsolete.
End of life vehicles (ELV’s) are mainly made of ferrous metals, but there are also a lot of other materials in a car, such as plastic, glass, carpet and fluids.
Currently 85% of a car’s material has already been recycled, most of this being made up of steel, however recent legislation (the ELV directive) requires this percentage to increase to 95% by 2015.
How Are Cars Recycled?:
Due to the high amount of components made of different materials within a car, they need to be dismantled by hand. This is so the different materials can be sorted in to separate waste streams.
Dismantling involves de-polluting the vehicle by removing oils, fluids, batteries, lights, glass and tyres. (For tyre recycling please see separate fact sheet)
These items can then be recycled separately , which speeds up the recycling process and means less sorting is required by the processor.
Crushed vehicles among other metal wastes are processed by a shredding facility.
The result of this process is mainly shredded steel about 70%, this is then re-used by the steel industry.
30% Of the material from shredding is classed as shredder fluff which contains foams, plastics and other materials that were not separated from the vehicle before shredding.
This fluff is disposed of at landfill sites as it is very difficult to separate out in to separate waste streams. However extensive research is being conducted on how to recover plastics from this fluff with the aim of recycling them.