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Vehicle recycling rises

October 15, 2008 at 10:30 am

Last May, the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) announced that only around three quarters of a million of the two million vehicles scrapped annually in the UK had Certificates of Destruction (CODs). However, the figure for this year looks set to rise.

How many of us have even heard of Certificates of Destruction though, let alone know what they are, why they are important, who can issue them and why we should steer clear of the illegal operators in the business?

Four years ago, regulations were introduced governing the environmental standards for recycling “end-of-life vehicles” (ELVs). The certificates can only be issued by recycling operators, known as Authorised Treatment Facilities, who meet the standards set down by Europe’s ELV directive.

There are over 1400 treatment facilities in the UK which have been able to prove that vehicles are scrapped in an environmentally friendly fashion. For instance, before vehicles are shredded, they must have hazardous oil, other fluids such as petrol and components removed, in a way unlikely to damage the environment. All motor manufacturers have opted for one of two recycling companies – Autogreen and Car Take Back – to deal with their vehicles, but there is no obligation on the owner to use the company chosen by the manufacturer.

Many owners of vehicles to be scrapped seem, however, to be unaware of the requirements, and Duncan Wemyss of the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers’ Association feels that a major publicity campaign is needed. He suggests that a leaflet in the annual road tax reminder would raise public awareness.

There is also the problem of a loophole in the system, which allows drivers to tick a box on the deregistration form, indicating that they have scrapped the vehicle themselves, cutting out the need for a certificate. In May last year, the DVLA claimed that steps were being taken in conjunction with the Department for Trade and Industry to solve the loophole but, five months later, Duncan Wemyss said: "The DVLA is doing nothing to support the legal operator. There has been a lot of talking but it has done nothing as yet to overcome this and there are people now who are considering closing down because they are not getting the vehicles through."

The high price of scrap metal is a motivating factor in continuing their illegal trade, making it increasingly difficult for the legal operators to compete. For the driver, however, the scheme should be straightforward, with no fee being charged for scrapping the unwanted vehicle and with most of the UK’s population being within a 30 mile drive of an Authorised Treatment Facility.

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