Lifting The Bonnet On The Cost Of Recycling A Scrap Car

Posted on 26th May 2016 by CarTakeBack Posted in: In The Know

What goes into recycling a car

We take a close look at the costs that have to be considered before a recycling centre can work out how much you’ll be paid for your scrap car.

Scrap car collection

You won’t be surprised to hear that many cars are in too poor a condition to be driven safely or legally to the recycling centre.

So one of the first costs a recycling centre has to consider is collection. This is largely dependent on the cost of fuel and how long it takes, which of course, depends on how far away you are. But you can easily be talking in the region of £40.

CarTakeBack scrap car collection vehicle, customer and driver


Once at the local CarTakeBack recycling centre, all scrap cars have to undergo a depollution process where the harmful materials are safely removed. Aside from the labour cost, huge investment has to be made in environmentally safe ground, buildings and specialist equipment before businesses are allowed to legally handle scrap cars. The hazardous materials, such as tyres, oils and refrigerants, have to be disposed of in an environmentally safe way, which again has a cost.

On the road again!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the local CarTakeBack recycling centre is the end of the line for your old car, but this isn’t the case. After the depollution and parts removal process has taken place, cars have to undergo further processing to recover the value from the remaining materials. This can only be achieved economically at one of a small number of sites around the country, which have the specialist equipment needed. So the remains of your car, now a clean de-polluted shell, has to be transported to a car shredder at further cost. This is much more cost effective if the cars can first be crushed into bales. A flatbed transporter, costing around £150 for a local journey, can carry up to 25 baled cars. However the same journey with whole cars could see the load reduced to just 6 cars, easily quadrupling the costs!

In shreds

On arrival at the shredder, state of the art, multimillion pound machines are used to shred cars into fist sized chunks in a matter of seconds! Once they’re a more manageable size, the materials are separated into the different types of metal, plastic, rubber and glass. Markets are just beginning to develop for some of the non-metallic materials, but the costs of segregation and processing still tend to outweigh any value. Any waste that remains after the shredding process that can’t be recycled, has to go to landfill. And with the cost of landfill being in the region of £100 per tonne, this further increases the need to ensure that as much material is recycled as possible. In fact, CarTakeBack has achieved the EU’s recycling target, which is currently 95%, in each and every year since it was introduced.

Photo of a shredder

Although the fluctuations of the worldwide metal markets are out of CarTakeBack’s control, using the latest practices to efficiently collect and recycle cars help to keep costs down, which in turn helps you to get the best value.

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