One Million Scrapped Cars Could Come Back From The Dead

Hundreds of unauthorised scrap yards are cashing in at the expense of reputable car recycling plants, which could see unsafe vehicles returning to UK roads or being sold abroad, according to Bluecycle, the leading online auction house for automotive salvage.

Bluecycle, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, claims that up to one million vehicles a year that are taken off the road are avoiding destruction illegally, due to insufficient resources available to enforce European legislation governing their recycling.

As the debate on climate change intensifies, Bluecycle is calling on the Government to step up local enforcement of the European End of Life Vehicles directive (ELV). Despite the successful efforts of the Environment Agency in closing hundreds of illegal sites, the dearth of unauthorised operators remaining is responsible for a massive number of scrapped vehicles slipping through the net.

Figures from the Government’s licensing body, DVLA, show that approximately two million cars a year are taken off the road, generating some 3.5 million tonnes* of scrap. This figure has been boosted by approximately half a million tonnes more as a result of the Government’s scrappage scheme, which finishes at the end of March.

The number of Certificates of Destruction issued by the UK’s 1,558 Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs)**, however, is closer to the one million mark, according to Andy Latham, Bluecycle’s Reputation Manager:

“It is a legal requirement for ATFs to issue a Certificate of Destruction to prove that a vehicle has been correctly destroyed but the DVLA does not require one to confirm that it has been taken off the road. We’re caught in a  ‘Lazurus effect’ where something like fifty per cent of vehicles scrapped don’t get a Certificate of Destruction. They’re quite literally coming back from the dead.”

Continued Latham:
“Until the audit trail is tightened up and more unauthorised sites are closed down, we cannot expect this figure to reduce by much, which flies in the face of the original legislation and more importantly, could put someone’s life at risk if a car finds its way back onto the road.”

Bluecycle only sells vehicles through its online auctions. Buyers of Category B vehicles, those which must never be returned to the road, are restricted to UK holders of full waste management or ELV licences only and a Certificate of Destruction must be uploaded as part of the purchase.

Commenting on the need for tougher enforcement , Guy Spence, Managing Director, Bluecycle, said:

“With the advances being made by manufacturers in developing recyclable materials to meet even more stringent targets in the next five years, not to mention the investment on their part and that of the Authorised Treatment Facilities we deal with, much more needs to be done by the Government to protect the integrity and obligations of the ELV directive.”

“The legislation is already in place, it’s a question of enforcing it properly. Bluecycle will continue to play its part in this process but there needs to be a concerted move towards total compliance. There also needs to be an obligation on the part of the DVLA to ensure the V5 document is continually improved.”

Introduced by the European Commission ten years ago this year, ELV first entered the UK statute books in 2002 and was fully incorporated in 2007. The law demands that 85% of every car leaving the road must be recycled by an ATF. In 2015, this rises to 95% of each vehicle scrapped.