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End-of –life Vehicles processing

The following is just a few of the steps that we undertake to make sure a vehicle is safe to dispose of.

1. Remove Electrical Sources

First of all we remove any electrical power sources from the vehicle, usually this is just a standard car battery. We store the old batteries safely before we send them to be re-cycled. EC Directive 91/157/EEC requires the separate collection of certain batteries, including those containing more than 0.4% lead by weight, which includes vehicle lead acid batteries. There is a well-established system for the recovery of lead acid car batteries with many local authorities and garages having collection points. The recycling rate for car batteries is estimated to exceed 90%. However, a significant number of batteries are still not recovered and recycled (for example, many scrap cars still contain batteries when they are shredded). A revision of the existing battery legislation is currently being undertaken. EU proposals include a 70 - 100 % collection target for automotive lead acid batteries with a recycling target of 50 - 80%.


2. Drain Hazardous Chemicals

Next the vehicle is moved to a depollution bay where fluids can be drained safely. We re-cycle anything we can and safely store any other liquids until they are collected for safe disposal.

2.1. Oil Fluid Separation

We use large industial interceptors to collect and separate oil from vehicles during the depollution process. Interceptors are placed safely beneath the surface of our site so that any liquids or rainwater that falls onto the site will drain into them. The contaminated water is then pumped into our highly efficient oil separation tanks.

2.2. Drain Oil

During the end of life vehicle depollution process we remove all oil left in the vehicle including the oil filters that will retain a surprising amount. We use a modern vacuum crusher to remove as much oil as possible from the old filters.

2.3. Waste Storage

We store all the waste fluids safely and in compliance with government regulations and they are later disposed of by specialist third-party companies.

3. Remove Tyres

We remove any remaining tyres from the vehicle, which are immediately stored and shipped to a specialist handler for disposal

4. Remove Usable Parts

Next we examine the vehicle to see if there are any parts we can salvage for re-sale. Any useable parts are removed, cleaned and tested to make sure they are safe for use in another vehicle. These parts can be anything from a full engine to speakers for an in-car stereo.
5. Metal, glass, plastic and fluff processing
Finally we remove the parts containing metals for recycling, such as engines and wheels for recycling aluminum, glass for glass recycling and more. The rest of the car is pressed to reduce the volume, and is send to steel mills for further processing.


At Athens recycling SA we are dedicated to the safe depollution of vehicles and we have a proven track record of safety and reliability.

The process described above gives you an idea of how we process end of life vehicles. We follow strict safety and environmental guidelines so that we can deliver a truly remarkable car salvage service, on the basis of the principles of alternative management of the Law 2939/2001 and Presidential Decree No. 116 (Government Gazette A '81/5.3.2004).

Below every category of processable unit is described in detail.


Vehicle operating fluids

This is one of the areas of greatest concern regarding motor vehicles. Although the disposal of fluids from ELVs is a major issue, the effects of inappropriate treatment of fluids removed during servicing are also significant. Increasing amounts of engine oil are being recovered and recycled however less than a third of waste oil produced by the DIY motorist is recycled. Lubricating oil has the greatest pollution potential.
Much of the waste oil collected for recovery  is processed (by removing excess water and filtering out particulates) and used as a fuel burnt in heavy industry and power stations. However, stricter emission limits and fuel quality controls resulting from environmental legislation could mean a reduction in the amount of waste oil used in this way. The preferred option for lubricating oils is re-refining for reuse as a base lubricant, although this doesn't currently occur on a large scale.
Waste oil from nearly 3 million car oil changes  is not collected. If collected properly, this could meet the annual energy needs of 1.5 million people.

When removed, oil filters can retain large amounts of oil and this may be discarded with the filter leading to further pollution. Vehicle dismantlers leave oil filters on the engines and they are recycled along with them. Oil can be recovered using special oil filter presses which squeeze out the oil and the remaining flattened metal filter can be recycled with other steel. Oil filter crushers are available for use on site at garages, although this is currently not common practice. Nevertheless, it is hoped that oil filter crushers will be increasingly introduced into civic amenity sites as an added service to the DIY car mechanic.

Catalytic Converters

Catalytic converters ('cats') have only been fitted as standard in new petrol injected-engine cars since 1992, so the business of their recovery is still developing. In the US, there is a well-established network of agents who collect the cats and a similar system is developing in the UK. The steel from the exhaust and the precious metals from the cat can be recovered when the cat is replaced. Platinum, rhodium and palladium can be recovered for reuse, either in new auto cats or for some other purpose, and as 68% of platinum and 90% of rhodium used in Western Europe go into the production of catalysts, this business is extremely viable. The ceramic casing is also recovered as a powder for refining.


In 1999, ELV arisings reached 1.8 million. With glass constituting approximately 3% of a vehicles weight, in excess of 55,000 tonnes of automotive scrap glass were theoretically available for recycling. This figure is likely to be increasing with the rise in ELVs. Currently, in the UK the majority of ELV glass is sent to landfill and only a small proportion is recycled.
There are two types of glass used in the auto industry, toughened and laminated. Toughened glass is easy to remove from vehicles after shattering. Laminated glass, however, doesn't shatter and will need to be removed manually, which is time-consuming. In addition, as the value of glass is relatively low (approximately £0.48 per ELV), it is currently not possible to recover the cost of removal glass.


Approximately 76% by weight of the average car is metal, most of which is comprised of sheet steel. The overall metal content of cars has declined rapidly during the past 20 years accompanied by an increase in the proportion of non-ferrous metals used in their manufacture, such as aluminium and magnesium. Currently about 98% of the metals in a car are recycled. These metals are recovered by the vehicle shredding industry and subsequently utilised by the steel industry and re-smelting plants.


Plastics used in the car industry have risen considerably, where an average new car in 1984 contained 8.5% by weight of plastics a similar car today contains around 11%. Plastics are used for their distinctive qualities, such as impact and corrosion resistance, in addition to low weight and cost. Due to its lightweight properties, the use of plastics can lead to considerable energy savings, with a car weighing 1.3 tonnes without plastics consuming approximately an extra 1000 litres of fuel during its life compared to a car weighing 1.1 tonnes with plastic . Despite the relatively high recycling rate for ELVs, the proportion of plastics from ELVs being recycled is extremely low. One reason for this is the wide variety of polymer types used. Identification, by marking components at production or by improved sorting technologies, will be vital if the practice of recovering plastic parts is to become viable. One of the few plastic parts currently being recovered from ELVs is battery cases, accounting for 5,000 of the 14,000 tonnes of automotive plastics recycling in 1998. There is an estimated further 121,000 tonnes of automotive plastics which is currently landfilled.
The most common automotive plastics types are polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyurethane (PU) and polyvinylchloride (PVC). PP accounts for approximately 41% of all car plastics (common in bumpers, wheel arch liners and dashboards), and like PE and PU (most common in seat foam) it is easily recycled. Viable markets for PP, PE and PU from non-automotive sources already exist.
PVC makes up about 12% of the plastics content of an average 1990s European car. PVC, by contrast, is relatively difficult to recycle, and there are currently no large-scale recycling schemes operating for post-consumer PVC. Alternative disposal methods such as incineration have raised a number of environmental concerns including dioxin emission during incineration and the use of phthalate plasticisers, which are thought to be disrupters of hormone systems. Nevertheless, this is likely to change due to proposals for a European Directive on the disposal of PVC. Car manufacturers are currently looking for alternatives to PVC.

Secondary Restraint Systems

Secondary restraint systems used in vehicles consist of airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners. Air bags became standard components in UK-produced vehicles in 1993. Some air bags are only activated as a result of certain types of collisions, so occasionally the bag is undetonated and in the absence of manufacturers' deployment instructions, a strict procedure should be followed in order to disarm the bag safely. Air bags do not contain high value materials, so reclamation is not a viable option. In addition, because of the high product specifications and specialist installation procedures required to fulfil their safety purpose, reuse is not currently an option either.

At Athens recycling SA we are dedicated to the safe depollution of vehicles and we have a proven track record of safety and reliability.

The process described above gives you an idea of how we process end of life vehicles. We follow strict safety and environmental guidelines so that we can deliver a truly remarkable car salvage service, on the basis of the principles of alternative management of the Law 2939/2001 and Presidential Decree No. 116 (Government Gazette A '81/5.3.2004).