Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

End of life vehicles (ELVs)

Every year, around 2 million vehicles in the UK become waste. Collecting, storing, treating and disposing of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) can pollute the environment.

Legislation to limit the impact of ELVs on the environment aims to:

  • influence the design of vehicles to make them, and their components, easier to recycle
  • reduce the use of certain hazardous materials in vehicle manufacture to ensure easier and safe disposal of waste from ELVs
  • standardise treatment requirements to ensure sites storing or treating ELVs have a permit and are run to prevent pollution
  • increase the amount of material recycled from a waste vehicle and reduce waste going to landfill

This guide covers the environmental legislation that deals with ELVs, which vehicles it applies to and what vehicle manufacturers should do. It explains how to dispose of vehicles after you own them or if you accept waste vehicles at your site.

Additional resources

  

End-of-life vehicles (ELVs) are motor vehicles that are classified as waste.

Waste is anything that you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard. This includes any material sent for recycling or reuse.

The components and materials removed from ELVs, for example batteries, engine oil and other fluids and metal, are also waste.

Vehicles covered by ELV legislation

ELV legislation aims to reduce the amount of waste produced from vehicles when they are scrapped, and ensure that storing and treating ELVs does not harm the environment.

ELV legislation applies to cars and vans, and the treatment requirements apply to all waste motor vehicles, including:

  • three-wheeled motor vehicles
  • coaches
  • buses
  • motorcycles
  • goods vehicles, eg lorries.

Vintage vehicles do not fall within the scope of the ELV legislation. These are vehicles kept in a proper and environmentally sound manner, either ready for use or stripped into parts. Vintage vehicles can include:

  • historic vehicles
  • vehicles of value to collectors
  • vehicles intended for museums.

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

Further information

For further details about complying with ELV requirements, you can download guidance on ELV regulations from the BIS website.

 GOV.UK: Guidance on the ELV regulations (PDF, 155K)

If your business manufactures or imports cars and vans under 3.5 tonnes, you have a number of responsibilities to make it easier for your vehicles and parts to be recycled at the end of their life. These requirements do not apply to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, for example heavy goods vehicles and coaches.

What you must do

Meet vehicle design and information requirements

The vehicles you manufacture must comply with certain design requirements. Vehicle materials and components must contain only allowed levels of the following heavy metals:

  • cadmium
  • lead
  • mercury
  • hexavalent chromium.

You must give any plastic and rubber materials and components, excluding tyres, a code so that they can be dismantled and recovered separately.

You must keep technical documents to show compliance with the design requirements for four years from the date you put the vehicles, materials and components on the market. The Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) is the enforcement authority and can ask to see these documents to prove your compliance.

If your business produces fewer than 500 vehicles a year in each European Union member state, you only need to comply with the restrictions on heavy metals. You will still need technical documents to prove this.

Registering vehicles

You must register with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and declare responsibility for the vehicles you produce at the end of their life. You can register with BIS by post:

End-of-Life Vehicle Registrations Unit
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
1 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0ET

Alternatively, you can email the End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) Registrations Unit at elvregistration@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

Implement an ELV take-back system

You must have a BIS-approved, free take-back system for the vehicles that you produce and are responsible for when they become ELVs. You must apply to BIS for approval of your take-back system. The system must be reasonably accessible to people who want to deliver a vehicle to it.

If you sell or transfer your business to someone else, for example another producer, you may still be legally responsible for the vehicles you produced at the end of their life. You should include any ELVs you are responsible for in the transfer of the business, or ensure that you arrange for their appropriate disposal.

There are two main service providers that help vehicle manufacturers to provide free take-back of ELVs:

Achieve recovery and recycling targets

You must meet recovery and recycling targets for the vehicles that you manufacture and have declared responsibility for when they are scrapped. You must:

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

These targets will increase from 2015.

You must submit details of the reuse, recovery and recycling rates you achieve to The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on an annual basis.

Further information

For further details about complying with ELV requirements, you can download guidance on ELV regulations from the BIS website.

GOV.UK: Vehicle manufacturers and importers - end of life vehicles regulations

When you send an end-of-life vehicle (ELV) for dismantling or disposal, you must ensure that the site you are sending it to has a waste management licence and is an authorised treatment facility (ATF).

NIEA: Authorised car breakers (ATFs)

SEPA: Contact SEPA

If you send your ELV to a storage site before it is taken to an ATF, you must ensure that the storage site has a waste management licence.

You can do this by contacting your local NIEA or SEPA office.

Contact your environmental regulator

Follow hazardous waste controls

ELVs are classified as hazardous waste until they have been fully treated or depolluted to remove fluids and other hazardous substances and components. Vehicles intended for treatment and destruction must be consigned as hazardous waste when they move between sites.

Hazardous/special waste

Certificates of Destruction

If you are disposing of a car or van, the ATF must issue you with a Certificate of Destruction. This demonstrates that your vehicle has been taken to an ATF and allows the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) to deregister the vehicle.

If the ATF you use tells the DVA that your vehicle has been destroyed, you do not need to send your certificate to anyone. However, you should keep it for your own records as it is proof that you are no longer responsible for the vehicle.

A Certificate of Destruction must contain details of:

  • the vehicle
  • the ATF
  • lthelicence and competent issuing authority for the ATF.

GOV.UK: Scrap cars

Use a free take-back system

You can take your car or van to an ATF free of charge, providing it has the essential components of a vehicle - such as the engine, transmission, coachwork and wheels - and it is part of the appropriate manufacturer's network.

The two main free take-back service providers with a network of ATFs throughout the UK are Autogreen and Cartakeback:

Autogreen: ELV take-back system

Cartakeback: ELV take-back scheme

Scrap vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, for example a lorry or a coach, must also be depolluted at an ATF, but are not covered by the free take-back arrangements. You will not be issued with a Certificate of Destruction but you should ask for proof that you have handed your vehicle over to be destroyed.

Further information

GOV.UK: Scrap Cars

If you operate a business working with end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) you must meet requirements for storing and dismantling ELVs at your site.

What you must do

Comply with a waste management licence

You must have a waste management licence and comply with its conditions if you dismantle or store waste motor vehicles on your site that have not been depolluted.

Vehicles have been depolluted when they have been treated to the approved standard to remove fluids and other hazardous substances or components.

Comply with storage and treatment standards

If you store and treat ELVs, you must meet environmental standards to be classed as an authorised treatment facility (ATF). These standards include:

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

SEPA: Guidance on the standards for storage and treatment of ELVs

Competent operator schemes

If you operate an ATF you will need to demonstrate your technical competence and comply with an approved scheme.

NetRegs: How to apply for a waste management licence

Follow hazardous waste controls

ELVs that have not been depolluted and some component parts, for example batteries, oil filters and waste engine oil, are hazardous waste. You must:

  • use consignment notes to accompany your hazardous waste, and keep a copy of these for three years
  • keep copies of 'return to producer' forms for three years (these are records of what has happened to your waste)
  • notify your environmental regulator at least three days before the waste is moved.

Hazardous/special waste

Register waste exemptions

You must register an exemption from waste management licensing for certain activities.

If you dismantle or store waste motor vehicles that have been depolluted you may need a paragraph 45 exemption.

NIEA: Paragraph 45 waste exemption

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

If you have an exemption from waste management licensing you must comply with the exemption conditions.

Further information

For more information on how to apply for a waste management licence or register an exemption, read the waste management licences guidance on the NetRegs website.

Waste management licences

SEPA: Standards for the storage and treatment of end-of-life vehicles

SEPA: Waste management licensing exemptions

NIEA: Paragraph 45 exemption for the dismantling of depolluted end-of-life vehicles

Good practice

You can use a generic toolkit for all businesses that will help you comply with your waste management licence and manage your environmental performance.

NIEA: Management toolkit for Northern Ireland

SEPA: Management toolkit for Scotland

This page provides links to key pieces of environmental legislation relating to end-of-life vehicles. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legislation register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.

Environmental management systems and environmental reports

Northern Ireland

EU Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles 2000/53. Requires end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) and their components to be recycled or reused. Sets out design requirements for materials and components. Outlines measures for collection systems and treating and storing waste vehicles at authorised treatment facilities.

End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations SI 2003/2635. Requires producers of vehicles to set up collection, treatment and disposal systems to make sure that components in vehicles can be recovered, reused and recycled at the end of their life.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) Regulations SI 2005/263. Requires producers to register responsibility for vehicles placed on the market and apply for approval of their vehicle collection system. Introduces reuse, recovery and recycling targets for ELVs treated at authorised treatment facilities.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Amendment) Regulations SI 2010/1094. Amends 2003/2635 by changing the basis on which exemptions from the restrictions on use of heavy metals in vehicle components are identified. Also provides powers of entry and inspection for the enforcement authorities.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2010/1095 Amends 2005/263 by making changes to requirements for reporting details of reuse, recycling and recovery rates.

Environment (Designation of Relevant Directives) Order (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/209. Adds solvent emissions, waste incineration, emissions from large combustion plants and ELVs as polluting activities under the regulatory system set up in Environment (NI) Order 2002.

Waste Management Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2003/493 Covers applications for waste management licences, which authorise the deposit, disposal and treatment of controlled waste. Includes conditions on the use of certain mobile plant.

Scotland

EU Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles 2000/53 Requires end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) and their components to be recycled or reused. Sets out design requirements for materials and components. Outlines measures for collection systems and treating and storing waste vehicles at authorised treatment facilities.

End-of-Life Vehicles Regulations SI 2003/2635. Requires producers of vehicles to set up collection, treatment and disposal systems to make sure that components in vehicles can be recovered, reused and recycled at the end of their life.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) Regulations SI 2005/263. Requires producers to register responsibility for vehicles placed on the market and apply for approval of their vehicle collection system. Introduces reuse, recovery and recycling targets for ELVs treated at authorised treatment facilities.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Amendment) Regulations SI 2010/1094. Amends 2003/2635 by changing the basis on which exemptions from the restrictions on use of heavy metals in vehicle components are identified. Also provides powers of entry and inspection for the enforcement authorities.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Producer Responsibility) (Amendment) Regulations SI 2010/1095 Amends 2005/263 by making changes to requirements for reporting details of reuse, recycling and recovery rates.

End-of-Life Vehicles (Storage and Treatment) (Scotland) Regulations SSI 2003/593. Requires certain conditions to be met for site licences covering keeping and treating waste motor vehicles.

Waste Management Licensing Regulations SI 1994/1056. Covers applications for waste management licences, which authorise the deposit, disposal and treatment of controlled waste. Includes conditions on the use of certain mobile plant.

The Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016 Removes waste tyres from the list of materials that can be treated for recovery or reuse under a paragraph 11 exemption. Also removes tyres from the list of waste types that can be stored under a paragraph 17 exemption.

Further information

Environmental legislation on NetRegs

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