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Is your vehicle recycling site ready for floods?

Is your vehicle recycling site prepared for floods? Simon Walker, Founder and Director of SJW Enviro Consulting Ltd, discusses the necessities of adapting to flood events caused by climate change.


Is your vehicle recycling site ready for floods? f
Simon Walker

In May 2019, the UK Parliament passed a non-binding motion declaring a climate emergency in the UK. This was an acknowledgement that a situation exists in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change, and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.

An increase in heavy precipitation causing flooding has the potential to affect all of us. This is one of the predicted effects of the long-term alteration of temperature and typical weather patterns that is climate change.

Several indicators in the latest UK State of the Climate report show that the UK’s climate is becoming wetter. For example, the highest rainfall totals over a five-day period are 4% higher during the most recent decade compared to 1961-1990.
Furthermore, the amount of rain from extremely wet days has increased by 17% when comparing the same time periods. In addition, there is a slight increase in the longest sequence of consecutive wet days for the UK.

One study found that climate change has increased the risk of floods in England and Wales, such as those in Autumn 2000 (the wettest Autumn on record), by at least 20% and perhaps as high as 90%.

The Environment Agency (EA) has recognised the effect of climate change on permitted sites and many new applications now require a climate change risk assessment to be submitted.

The consequence of flooding at authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) can be significant. Drains, pits and interceptors can become overwhelmed with water backing up and potentially carrying pollutants, especially in the form of fuels and oils, off-site or onto areas of unpaved surfaces within the site. Not only does this cause immediate problems as permit conditions are breached, and there is potentially expensive groundwater contamination. It also means that permits are harder to surrender in the long term, as the operators have to prove that the site no longer poses an environmental risk. Significant remediation costs may be incurred to meet the EA’s requirements.

Even without a significant flood event, an interceptor needs to be regularly checked to ensure that there is not a significant build-up of oil, which will eventually wash out if left to build up. So, to mitigate against the escape of contaminants, especially from pits and interceptor tanks, some ATF operators have installed belt oil skimmers to remove hydrocarbons from water.

Belt oil skimmers work because of the difference in specific gravity between oil and water. As water has the higher specific gravity, oil floats to the top of the water where it can be removed. A belt oil skimmer uses material, usually made of stainless steel or plastic, in the form of a belt to break the surface tension of the water to attract and collect the floating oil. The belt then passes through a set of wiper blades where the oil is wiped off and is collected in a proper disposal container.

The belt oil skimmer also acts as an effective remediation tool if groundwater becomes contaminated with oil. One such piece of equipment is Abanaki’s PetroXtractor oil skimmer which can reduce oil or fuel contamination in groundwater to within government standards using existing recovery or monitoring wells up to 30 metres deep without using pumps.

Oil skimmers are easy to run and have relatively low maintenance costs, and they also require very little operating space. More details on the working of oil skimmers can be found at

While oil skimmers will not prevent flooding, they can go a significant way to stopping oil from leaving the permitted area or contaminating unsurfaced areas of the site.

To find out more, contact Simon on 07471 910102 or email him at

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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