What is an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF)?

Last updated September 9th, 2022

If you’ve been researching how to scrap your car, you’ve likely seen references to ATFs. For those unfamiliar, ATF stands for ‘Authorised Treatment Facility’, a vehicle dismantler, scrapyard or breaker’s yard which follows a strict set of rules and regulations when dismantling and disposing of vehicles. These regulations are known as the ELV (End-of-Life Vehicles) guidelines and are monitored by the Environment Agency.

Read on to learn about how ATFs work, the standards they have to meet - and how to find your local ATF.

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What is an authorised treatment facility?

An Authorised Treatment Facility is a vehicle dismantler, scrapyard or breaker’s yard that operates under a set of strict regulations for the safe and responsible disposal of vehicles. These regulations are known as the ELV (end of life vehicle) guidelines and are monitored by the Environment Agency.

What are the benefits of an Authorised Treatment Facility?

Here are some of the benefits around scrapping your vehicle with an ATF:

  • Better for the environment

    Vehicles scrapped with an ATF are generally recycled, which saves landfill space and lowers the use of natural resources in vehicle manufacturing.

  • Financially rewarding

    Many ATFs offer financial incentives to drivers presenting their vehicle for recycling or scrapping.

  • Wide range of vehicles processed

    Many ATFs have the ability to process a variety of vehicles, from passenger cars to transit vans.

  • Proof of liability

    Authorised Treatment Facilities are required to issue a Certificate of Destruction, which proves that you are no longer responsible for your vehicle.

Environment Agency checking ATFs

The Environment Agency (EA) are responsible for the regular monitoring of ATFs across the UK. These checks ensure that staff and facilities are capable of thoroughly following and upholding the ELV (End of Life Vehicles) guidelines, including putting the correct health, safety and environmental measures in place for the safe disposal of vehicles. The EA also ensures a high standard of business operations in authorised treatment facilities.

ATF standards

The standards that ATFs must follow are set by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and are split into the following four categories:

  • Certificate of Destruction requirements

    The prompt issuing of CoD documents acquired by the Authorised Treatment Facilities through the DVLA.

  • Depollution processes

    The safe removal of potentially hazardous substances and materials from the vehicle before disposal.

  • Safe storage

    The safe handling and storage of vehicle parts.

  • Recycling and recovery

    Meeting targets for recycling and recovery of vehicles and providing evidence of this.

How do I know if a scrapyard is on the Authorised Treatment Facility register?

You can check whether or not a scrapyard is ATF registered by searching for the facility on the DEFRA website’s ATF registry search tool. You don’t need all the facility’s details (permit number, for example), but should provide the local authority and address of the ATF if you can.

Can I get my car scrapped by a scrapyard that isn’t ATF registered?

It’s against the law for anyone to accept your car for scrap if they do not hold an ATF license. This is due to the hazardous materials within the vehicle and the effect that they may have on health, safety and the environment if they aren’t dealt with properly.

How does an ATF scrap a car?

The first step in scrapping a car is to depollute the vehicle safely and thoroughly. This is a labour-intensive process and involves the removal of:

  • The battery.
  • The catalytic converter.
  • Fuel.
  • Oils from the engine, gearbox, transmission and hydraulics.
  • Fluids, including coolant, anti-freeze, brake fluid, air-con gas, shock absorber fluid and screen wash.
  • Oil filters.
  • Wheels, tyres and any lead wheel-balancing weights.
  • Any parts containing mercury.
  • Any parts containing explosive materials (airbags, seatbelt tensions, etc.).

Once these materials and substances are safely removed, the ATF will then ensure that all elements are recycled, reused, stored or appropriately disposed of.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Authorised Treatment Facilities are required to issue a Certificate of Destruction within 24 hours of the vehicle being scrapped. These are acquired through the DVLA and will be posted out to the vehicle’s previous owner within 7 days.

Yes! True to our name, we absolutely will buy any car - including those considered scrap-worthy. If you’re looking for a faster, simpler alternative to selling to an ATF, we are here for you.

All the cars we buy are sold on through auction, sometimes to scrap metal dealers. However, in many cases, vehicles deemed ‘scrap’ by their former owners are faithfully restored to roadworthy condition and given a second lease of life!

Anyone wishing to open an ATF must first obtain planning permission from their local council and ensure that they have secured a site that is fit for purpose, acquire the correct environmental permit for all treatments and services to be carried out on the site - and obtain a scrap metal dealer’s licence from the local authority. For further information, you should contact the Environment Agency and explain that you’d like to begin the ATF registration process.

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