End-of-life vehicle statistics for Ireland

EPA waste data release 25 June 2021. Latest reference year 2019. Data subject to Eurostat validation.

Ireland achieved an End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) reuse and recycling rate of 87.43% and a reuse and recovery rate of 95.21% in 2019, in compliance with current EU targets.

This is the second year that Ireland narrowly achieved full compliance with the ELV Directive targets which were fully met for the first time in 2018 (see Figure 1 & Table 1).

Ireland must continue to improve the reuse, recycling and recovery of valuable material from end-of-life vehicles as part of our transition to a circular economy.

Table 1 - ELV Reuse, Recycling & Recovery Rates, 2010-2019
Reference Year

Target*

2010201120122013201420152016201720182019
ELV reuse and recycling rate % 85 77 81 82 80 82 83.30 86.00 85.90 86.37 87.43
ELV reuse and recovery rate % 95 77 83 88 92 91 91.80 92.80 94.60 95.17 95.21

Table Notes: *Current ELV Reuse, Recycling & Recovery Targets were introduced in 2015

Open in Excel: Table 1 - ELV Reuse, Recycling, Recovery Rates, 2010-2019

Key trends

  • An estimated 150,800 ELVs (scrap vehicles) were treated in Ireland in 2019, equating to 158,413 tonnes of waste (see Table 2).
    • This was a decrease of approximately 7% on 2018 when 162,500 ELVs were treated.
  • The latest EPA data show that Ireland continued to meet all reuse and recycling rate targets for end-of-life vehicles in 2019, but by a narrow margin.
    • Ireland achieved a reuse and recycling rate of 87.43% compared with the EU target of 85%
    • Ireland achieved a reuse and recovery rate of 95.21% compared with the EU target of 95%.
  • Ireland’s rates of reuse, recycling and recovery of ELVs have shown gradual year-on-year improvements since 2010, although the rate of improvement has slowed in recent years (see Figure 1 and Table 1).
Table 2. Summary of Irish ELV Treatment, 2019
Treatment TypeTonnesPercentage %
Reuse & Recycling 138,501 87.43
Reuse & Recovery  150,825 95.21
Disposal 7,588 4.79
Total 158,413 100

What are End-of-Life Vehicles?

ELVs are cars or light commercial vehicles (weighing less than 3.5 tonnes) that are no longer suitable for use and are discarded as waste.

ELVs generate between 8 and 9 million tonnes of waste in the European Union (EU) annually. The EU ELV Directive (2000/53/EC) sets out measures to promote the reuse, recycling and recovery of ELVs and requires each Member State to meet the targets of 95% reuse and recovery of ELVs, with a minimum of 85% reuse and recycling.

Why do we need to recycle End-of-Life Vehicles?

abandoned car in a field

You are required by law to have your end-of-life vehicle deposited at a vehicle recycler that is permitted by the local authorities or licensed by the EPA.  Vehicle recycling facilities or ATFs are better known as ‘scrapyards’ or ‘car dismantlers’. These facilities will accept your vehicle free of charge but there might be a fee for collection.

If ELVs are not recycled, the European economy loses millions of tonnes of valuable materials such as metals that can be reused, recycled and recovered as part of the circular economy.

Find out more about how to recycle your end-of-life vehicle and the location of your nearest vehicle recycler through your local authority or at elves.ie or mywaste.ie.

ELV treatment process

When a vehicle is no longer suitable for use, it should be brought to a vehicle recycling facility (ATF).  The ATF will then issue the registered owner with a Certificate of Destruction so they will no longer be liable for motor tax.  

The first step of the ELV treatment process is depollution. This process involves the removal of hazardous materials such as oils, fuel, fluids, batteries and explosive components (e.g. air bags) from the ELV. The ELV may also be dismantled to obtain spare parts for reuse and components for recycling.  Commonly removed spare parts include mirrors, lights and engine parts. Tyres and catalytic converters are generally removed for recycling.

In the next step of the treatment process, the depolluted ELV is shredded at a metal recycling facility. The shredded ELV material is then segregated into ferrous and non-ferrous metal and non-metal material.

The shredded metal is melted to make new metal products. The non-metallic shredded material undergoes further treatment.

ELV producer compliance scheme

All of the economic operators involved in the life cycle of vehicles, including vehicle manufacturers, distributors and importers have obligations to meet the ELV Directive reuse, recycling and recovery targets.

The ELV Directive aims to prevent & limit waste from end of life vehicles and improve the environmental performance of all economic operators involved in the life-cycle of vehicles.

Ireland's producer compliance scheme for ELVs, ELV Environmental Services (ELVES), was established in 2017. It works on behalf of vehicle manufacturers, distributors and importers to improve the ELV processing in Ireland and enable its member to meet their regulatory responsibilities.   ELVES also promote a network of ATFs to encourage vehicle owners to recycle ELVs at permitted ATFs. 

ELV data collection

The EPA uses information provided by ATFs through the National Waste Collection Permit Office (NWCPO) and other waste facilities, to gather data on ELV collection and processing.  This data is supplemented by information from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), ELVES and the Department of Transport.

European reporting

As part of annual reporting under the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, the EPA submits ELV waste statistics for Ireland to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications for transmission to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. The data are required to be submitted by 30th June of the reference year +2 (i.e. 2019 data were collected and processed in 2020 and submitted to Eurostat by 30th June 2021). Following validation by Eurostat, official statistics for Ireland and all Member States are published on the Eurostat website as part of the following datasets:

Download Infographic on ELVs

ELV pile