The top recycled vehicle materials

Recycled car battery

The benefits of vehicle recycling are endless. It helps the environment, protects wildlife, and it can also make you money! It’s something that’s become increasingly popular over the past decade with landfill piles reducing in size. A great step in the right direction!

With 27 million cars recycled each year, it’s important to know exactly what car parts you should be recycling to help save our planet. So, here are 6 of the key car materials Overton Automotive recycle correctly.

1. Metal

The majority of an average car is made up of metal, with the most common metal in car manufacturing being steel (found in brakes, engine, exhaust, wheels, and roofs). Steel is popular due to its durability, low price, and the fact it’s easy to work with. 

At Overton Automotive, we’ll take in your scrap vehicle and remove all the components before crushing it. The metal will then be processed for metal recycling through processes of magnetic separation, detinning and melting.

Parts such as axles, handles and other scrap metal can be sold to scrap metal companies where they’ll melt down the metal so it can be reused. So, the metal from your car could turn into just about anything, from electronics and medical equipment, to jewellery and other transportation devices.

2. Plastic Components

The second most common material found in vehicles is plastic, with around 40 different types of plastic in a car, and 10,000 parts on a car being plastic. Not only that, plastic is becoming a more popular use of material due to its lighter weight and better mileage, accounting for as little as 10% of an average car’s weight.

Plastic components can be found in both the interior and exterior, from parts such as bumpers and lift gates, to door panels and lighting.

Unfortunately, plastic waste is still such a large issue which we are tackling as a planet. Although when recycling your vehicle, there are specific methods for depolluting and shredding the plastic into smaller pieces to help tackle this issue. They are then sent to recycling centres to be turned into various pieces of equipment. 

So whether your dashboard is turned into a lunch box, a shampoo bottle or a toy, you can guarantee they’ll be repurposed into something useful.

3. Tyres

Did you know that around 50 million vehicle tyres are discarded each year in the UK? Because of this staggering number, tyres were actually banned from being dumped in landfill sites back in 2002. 

Since then, the UK has ensured that 100% of tyres are now recycled, in various ways, in order to help save the planet. Due to the nature of the material and the chemicals in tyres, they can be difficult to break down like other car components. 

Tyres are great for refurbishing or shredding into new products. When mixed with asphalt, shredded tyres can be used for roadway construction. Rubberised asphalt makes for a safe material for roads as it’s skid-resistant and improves night time visibility for drivers.

Did you know that shredded tyres can also be recycled into fuel? Using high-temp pyrolysis technology the tyres can be converted into oil for our vehicles.

According to Michelin, “car tyre disposal leads to around 30 million tons of tyres being replaced and potentially thrown away every year, worldwide!” Hence the importance of recycling old tyres.

4. Battery

Like most other components, your vehicle battery can’t be recycled at home. By law it must be recycled properly as they contain hazardous materials, such as lead and sulphuric acid, that could harm the environment. 

Bringing your old car battery to Overton Automotive for recycling is great for both you and the environment. Once removed from the vehicle, the batteries are collected by a licensed treatment company and each component of the battery is taken out including the lead, silver, acidic water and plastic. These are then all separated. 

The process of recycling a car battery involves the acid in the water to be chemically neutralised and purified. The lead and silver are melted to be reused as battery components, while the plastic is melted into pellets. These are then used for battery cases.

5. Engines

One of the more complex parts to recycle due to its many components is a vehicle’s engine. However, it’s much cheaper to recycle and reuse old engine parts than to produce a brand new one from scratch. It’s also a crucial step in reducing waste and conserving resources in the automotive industry.

Once an end-of-life engine has been taken into a recycling facility, it can then be disassembled to separate the different components, such as metal parts, plastic and rubber parts, and other materials. The separated components are sorted and graded based on their quality and material type, and the engine block and other larger metal parts are shredded into smaller pieces for easier processing. The shredded metal is melted in a furnace to produce clean scrap metal, which can be used to make new products.

Reuse and repurposing is a significant part of the engine recycling process. The different materials from the engine, such as steel, aluminium, and copper, are used to make new products, such as new engines or other automotive parts. This not only reduces waste but also conserves resources, as recycled materials require less energy to produce than new materials.

6. Engine Oil


The same as an engine, engine oil must also be recycled correctly to avoid polluting the environment. Used vehicle oil contains hazardous contaminants, so should never just be poured down the sink. At Overton we aim to depollute all vehicles within two days of arriving on site , we use the appropriate machinery to remove all oils and other fluids from the vehicle prior to dismantling.

The engine oil then undergoes a full process of recycling.

  1. The oil is placed in a large settling tank to separate the oil from water.
  2. The oil is cleaned by a filtering process which removes any solids and additives.
  3. It then undergoes propane de-asphalting to remove any outstanding bitumen elements.
  4. Now that the oil has been refined, it’s then distilled to be refined even further to be used as fuel oils, lubricants and raw materials.

This should give you a better understanding of what happens to some of the key materials in your car when it is recycled, what they can be reused for, and also how not to dispose of certain parts.

Have any questions about recycling your car? Our friendly team are happy to answer any questions you might have. Call us on 01224 722 354 or email us at sales@overton-automotive.co.uk

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