End of Life Vehicles

Motor vehicles have been around for little more than one hundred years, however, due to the mass production of cars, it is estimated that around 1.6 - 2 million end of life vehicles (ELVs) are arising in the UK each year (see link).

  • EC Directive on End-of Life Vehicles Directive 2000/53/EC aims to: Reduce the amount of waste produced from vehicles when they are scrapped.
  • Limit the use of hazardous substances and increase the quantity of recycled material used in the manufacture of vehicles.
  • Encourage producers to design vehicles for easier recycling.
  • Ensure producers pay all or a significant part of the costs of free take-back of no or negative value vehicles to treatment facilities (since 2007).
  • Set recovery and recycling targets for producers to achieve by 1 January 2015 whilst planning for improved targets for after then.

The ELV Directive introduced standards for sites storing and treating ELVs. These include minimum infrastructure requirements to prevent and minimise pollution at sites storing and treating ELVs. The Directive also sets out the depollution and dismantling process to promote recycling and recovery.

The End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations 2010, ELV (Producer Responsibility) Regulations 2005 and the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010 implement EC Directive 2000/53/EC in the UK. Responsibility for these is split between the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). BIS leads on implementation of the majority of the ELV Directive, while Defra leads on the implementation of Article 6 (permitting of treatment facilities).

The definition and scope of these regulations are outlined in the following environmental permitting guidance documents:

The End-of-Life Vehicles Directive passed into European law in October 2000 and was due to be transposed into national law in all Member States by 21 April 2002. This was delayed in the UK (as in most other Member States) due to the complexity of the Directive and the implications for many different businesses, organisations and motorists. The first set of Regulations transposing the Directive came into force between November 2003 and January 2004 in the UK.

What is an End of Life Vehicle?

End-of-life vehicles are motor vehicles that are categorised as waste. Their components and materials are also classed as waste. Waste is anything that you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard. This includes material being sent for recycling or reuse.

For further clarification when a vehicle is considered a waste along with a range of potential scenarios when dealing with an ELV, see the following position statement by the Environment Agency. 
There are two broad categories of ELVs:

  1. Premature ELVs which are quite new cars resulting from accident write-offs
  2. Natural ELVs which have reached the end of their life technically or economically.

All provisions of the end-of-life vehicle legislation apply to all cars and vans. With the EPR 2010 applying to all waste motor vehicles including classes of ELV's covered by the Directive irrelevant of class of vehicle. See definition of waste motor vehicle in Defra guidance Page 8 Section 3.

Vintage vehicles do not fall within the scope of the legislation. Vintage vehicles include historic vehicles or vehicles of value to collectors or intended for museums, kept in a proper and environmentally sound manner, either ready for use or stripped into parts.

The legislation also does not cover ships, trains or planes.

End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations 2003*
NB* The EPR 2007 revoked parts VII and Schedule 5 of the ELV 2003 in so far as they related to permitting standards and depollution process.

The depollution and dismantling process and standards for sites storing and treating ELVs:

  1. Improved standards for treatment sites
  2. New technical standards that apply to new vehicles
  3. Establishment of Certificate of Destruction (CoD) system

The Defra and BIS guidance documents (see previous links above) help to explain how the Regulations fit together. The EPR 2010 implements the ELV Directive depollution and treatment site standards through Schedule 11.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) Regulations 2005
The 2005 regulations cover recycling targets and free take-back for ELVs.
Environmental Permitting Regulations 2007**

NB** See previous note above as referring to the EPR 2007 revoked parts VII and Schedule 5 of the ELV 2003. Since the standards in Part VII and Schedule 5 were removed and implements the directive requirements directly. This applies for the current EPR 2010 where the standards are imposed by Schedule 11 and refer directly to the Directive.

The End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) (Amendment) Regulations 2010

Amends 2005 regulations by making changes to requirements for reporting details of reuse, recycling and recovery rates.
The End-of-Life Vehicles (Amendment) Regulations 2010

Amends 2003 regulations by changing the basis on which exemptions from the restrictions on the use of heavy metals in vehicle components are identified. Also provides powers of entry and inspection for the enforcement authorities.

Who is Affected?

1.Vehicle manufacturers

Businesses that manufacture or import certain new motor vehicles (essentially cars and vans below 3.5 tonnes in unladen weight) have a number of responsibilities under the regulations:

1.1. Registration

Producers must register with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and declare responsibility for the vehicles produced.
1.2. Take-back System

Producers must implement a BIS approved, free, take-back system for the end of life vehicles they are responsible for. The system is required to be reasonably accessible to anyone who wants to deliver a vehicle to it.

1.3. Meet Achieve recovery and recycling targets

Manufacturers are also responsible for meeting the recovery and recycling targets for the vehicles that they manufacture and have declared responsibility for when they are scrapped. The new 2015 targets starting from January 1st are to:

  • recover 95 per cent by average weight of each ELV per year
  • recycle at least 85 per cent by average weight of each ELV per year

Details of the reuse, recovery and recycling rates achieved must be submitted to BIS on an annual basis.

1.4. Design and Information Requirements

Producers must comply with design requirements that limit the use of certain hazardous materials. The use of the following heavy metals is restricted in vehicle materials and components:

  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Hexavalent Chromium

Producers must also provide information on how best to treat and recycle their vehicles. It is also necessary to code plastic and rubber components so that they can be dismantled and recovered separately.

2. Vehicle owners and operators Vehicle owners must ensure end-of-life vehicles are sent to a site that has an environmental permit (England and Wales) or a waste management license (Northern Ireland and Scotland) and is an Authorised Treatment Facility.

Authorised Treatment Facility (ATFs) are permitted facilities accepting waste motor vehicles, and are able to comply with the requirements of the End of Life Vehicle (ELV) and Environmental Permitting (EP) regulations. Further information on this page can be found here.

The last holder of any vehicle depolluted/dismantled in the following classes is issued with a Certificate of Destruction (CoD):

  • passenger carrying vehicles up to 3,500kg
  • light goods vehicles up to 3,500kg
  • three-wheel motor vehicles (excluding tricycles)

A CoD can only be issued by an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). The CoD ensures that the vehicle will be treated and disposed of correctly and that it is de-registered by DVLA.
A certificate of destruction must contain:

  • detailed information describing the vehicle
  • details of the authorised treatment facility
  • details of the competent issuing authority.

Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes must also be depolluted at an authorised treatment facility but are not covered by the free take-back arrangements.

3. Sites that accept waste motor vehicles

Sites that accept end-of-life vehicles must also comply with a number of conditions under the regulations:

3.1. Comply with Standards to Store and Treat Waste Vehicles

To be registered as an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) for the storage and treatment of end-of-life vehicles, the site must operate to certain environmental standards, including:

  • storing and treating ELVs so they don't harm the environment
  • removing all hazardous liquids and components (depolluting)
  • recycling, storing and disposing of the parts appropriately.

3.2. Follow Hazardous or Special Waste Controls

ELVs that have not already been depolluted are classified as Hazardous Waste (England and Wales)/Special Waste (Scotland) until they have been treated to remove fluids and other hazardous substances and components. Therefore, sites which treat vehicles that have not already been depolluted are listed as Hazardous/Special Waste producers and must:

  • Register as a hazardous waste producer (further details for producers in England can be found here)
  • use consignment notes to accompany hazardous/special waste, and keep a copy of these for three years
  • in England and Wales, keep copies of return to producer forms for three years
  • in England and Wales, check whether there is a requirement to register annually with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales
  • in Northern Ireland and Scotland, notify the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or SEPA at least three days before the waste is moved.

3.3. Check Requirement to Register any Exemptions

It is necessary to register an exemption from environmental permitting (England and Wales) or waste management licensing (Northern Ireland and Scotland) for certain activities. If a site dismantles or stores waste motor vehicles that have been depolluted it may require:

  • an environmental permit if storing more than two (fully) depolluted waste vehicles in England or Wales
  • a U16 exemption if storing up to two depolluted waste vehicles inEngland or Wales
  • a paragraph 45 exemption in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

3.4.Good Practice - Manage Environmental Performance

The Environment Agency has produced guidance explaining the conditions or rules of your environmental permit. It describes the standards and measures you must use to control the most common risks of pollution from your activity and how to comply with the conditions of your permit.

Previously the Environment Agency has also prepared a Toolkit (for England and Wales) for ELV ATFs assists with compliance and managing environmental Performance.


Article 7 of the End-of Life Vehicles Directive 2000/53/EC requires economic operators to attain a reuse and recovery target of 85% for all ELVs by 1 January 2006 and within this, a target of 80% for reuse and recycling, increasing to 95% and 85% respectively in 2015. The principle of producer responsibility means that producers should increasingly take responsibility for their products once they become waste and ensure that vehicles are increasingly designed for recycling.


BIS Guidance, The End of Life Vehicles Regulations 2003, 2005 and 2010 guidance note

Abandoned Vehicles

There were 828,534 abandoned vehicles reported to local authorities in England and Wales in 2002-2003.The costs of dealing with these abandoned vehicles was £33.9 million making the average spend per authority £81,383. This figure of abandoned vehicles has recently improved, in England alone by 2008 the number had dropped down to 42,742 reported vehicles. This is seen to be a reflection of the rising value of recoverable material encouraging the proper disposal of end-of-life vehicles. However even with lower levels of ELV abandoned vehicles it still remains an issue in many areas and requires constant management.

Abandoned and nuisance vehicles not only look unsightly but, as illustrated, are expensive to remove and pose a real danger from fires, explosion, injury, crime and pollution. Often the result of or leading to crime, abandoned vehicles can add to the decline of the amenity value of an area making resident feel unsafe and vulnerable.

Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, councils have a duty to remove a vehicle which is abandoned in their area, on any land in the open air, or on any other land which forms part of a highway. However, this does not cover vehicles abandoned on private land where the costs of removing a vehicle to the nearest carriageway are unreasonably high. Under this act, abandoning a vehicle is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum fine of £2,500 or three month imprisonment or both. An authorised officer may issue a fixed penalty notice of £200 as an alternative to prosecution.

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