Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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What happens to your vehicle when you recycle it with EMR?

Across the country, thousands of drivers with old vehicles sell them to EMR for processing and recycling every week. 


What happens to your vehicle when you recycle it with EMR? f
Managing Director of Metal Recycling, Ian Sheppard

“EMR has the widest network of authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) for vehicle recycling in the UK, which means anyone selling their car to us can rest assured that we will recycle any metals and plastics in a compliant and sustainable way, ready for re-use in a whole range of applications,” says Ian Sheppard, Managing Director, EMR

“As the material contained in an end-of-life vehicle is valuable to manufacturers, EMR is also able to pay drivers a competitive price.”

When EMR receives a vehicle for recycling, it is just the beginning of the story. EMR employs a whole series of processes and technologies to ensure the many different metals, plastics and other materials that make up a modern car can be separated, cleaned and sold on to manufacturers.   

So, how does this work?

“As soon as a vehicle arrives, we first remove hazardous liquids such as any remaining fuel, oil or air conditioning and radiator fluid. These are safely stored before being taken away to be processed by specialist contractors. The fuels, oils and air conditioning fluid are recycled where suitable” Ian says. 

Once the fluids and tyres have been removed, vehicles are ready to be shredded, breaking them up into thousands of pieces for separation. 

“By putting them through one of our six shredder facilities we can process up to 300 vehicles an hour, ending up with fist-sized pieces of material which are much easier to separate,” Ian explains.

EMR’s giant shredders – which operate with between 2,500 and 10,000 horsepower – also begin the separation process, using powerful magnets to separate ferrous metals such as iron and steel. 

Ferrous metal represents 60 to 65 percent of the total material in most cars and is sent straight to local steel mills, or exported for processing, where it can be sustainably and responsibly re-used in the next generation of vehicles, consumer goods or in construction. 

The rest of the material includes non-ferrous metals such as aluminium, copper, brass and zinc alongside plastic, wood, foam, rubber, paint and dirt. These are separated into two streams using the equivalent of an industrial-sized vacuum cleaner to remove the lighter material, leaving behind the heavy material. 

Historically, some of this light material would end up in landfill but EMR has invested significantly in developing processes to extract any valuable material for recycling.  

“We now recover any light pieces of metal at our Oldbury and Liverpool sites and hard-to-recycle plastics are turned into high-quality virgin polymer substitutes at our world-leading recycling facility, MBA Polymers, in Nottinghamshire,” says Ian. 

This leaves the heavy material, which includes a mixture of non-ferrous metals as well as heavier plastics and rubbers. 

“All of this material goes to EMR’s processing site in Newmarket, Suffolk, where our team employs a range of sophisticated mineral separation techniques to produce saleable metals and plastics. This includes sink float separation where EMR carefully alters the density of water, allowing each material to float to the top as the density changes. This produces a very clean non-ferrous metal that goes straight back into the circular economy.

“EMR also produces a wire concentrate from all of the electronics that exist in modern cars which is further processed to extract high-quality copper granules,” Ian adds.

This level of sophistication has only become possible over the past decade as EMR has invested in creating innovative, sustainable ways to reclaim more of the material contained within end-of-life vehicles. And Ian says this investment is continuing to transform the industry: 

“In the years ahead, EMR will increasingly use remote sensing and machine learning technology to further increase the quality of the recycled material we produce.” 

Across the UK, Ian and the rest of the EMR team are working hard to ensure the material in every end-of-life vehicle it recycles is returned to the supply chain in an efficient, sustainable and effective way:

“And that’s a commitment we’re extremely proud of.” 


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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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