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Environment Agency Warns Car Recycling Operators

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Environment Agency Warns Car Recycling Operators

CSH Environmental don’t recycle vehicles but we have an appreciation for the specialist recyclers that do and the challenges they face

A lot of used cars in the junkyard

This summer a number of fires at vehicle recycling sites prompted the Environment Agency to warn operators of the importance of having a fire prevention plan (FPP) in place, especially during the hot weather we’ve been enjoying recently.

At CSH Environmental, our fire prevention plans are regularly reviewed and staff understand the importance of adhering to policies to ensure the safety of themselves and the local air quality.

The downside to such rigorous fire prevention planning is that it often costs operators a lot of money to implement. While all car recyclers will agree that safety is paramount, there is a glaring imbalance of justice where licensed operators face extra costs while illegal operators are not subjected to the same charges of an effective FPP.

High Temperatures

In its statement, the Environment Agency warned that long term forecasts for higher than average temperatures and low rainfall should be observed by ‘end of life vehicle facilities’ (ELVs) as a heightened risk.

Fires at ELVs have risen over the years with 21 in 2016 and 24 in 2017. One notable incident in Ryton, at Whites of Coventry, resulted in the closure of the local airport.

Increased Risks and Preventative Measures

Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, Malcolm Lythgo, said of the ELV problem,

“Fires on waste sites, particularly sites handling hazardous components, unfortunately happen all year round. However, dry, warm weather conditions bring an increased risk.

“It’s really important that those handling end of life vehicles have fire prevention plans in place and engage with the Environment Agency for advice and support on keeping their sites safe. This is not just good for businesses, but also helps to safeguard the environment and surrounding communities.”

Mr Lythgo outlined a number of key points for ELV operators to remember including:

  • Disconnect and remove batteries as soon as is practical after vehicles arrive on site, to reduce the risk of electrical short circuits.
  • Use safe depollution equipment and store fuel in containers specifically designed to store it.
  • Ensure vehicles are fully depolluted before crushing and shredding.
  • Enforce a no smoking policy for both staff and customers.
  • Put a fire prevention plan in place, as per the Environment Agency guidelines

The Vehicle Recyclers Association

The Vehicle Recyclers Association secretary, Chas Ambrose, has responded to the problem to clarify that all VRA members either have a full FPP in place or are in the process of implementing one. Ambrose comments:

“The requirement for an FPP is not new. We’ve been working with the Environment Agency on this and advising VRA members since late 2015. Constructing and implementing a FPP is not a ‘5 minute job’, and it’s not always straightforward, but my experience is that those members that have started the process have found it very useful”


CSH Environmental is dedicated to a wide portfolio of services geared toward the safe, legal and eco-friendly disposal of waste materials. From our base in Colchester, we aim to recycle 99% of all materials that we collect. With a range of options, from skip hire, RORO skip hire, trade waste services, WEEE recycling, asbestos disposal and even simple bag collections, you can’t go wrong choosing our expert team. For more information, contact our operatives today.

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