What is an ATF (Authorised Treatment Facility)?

What is an ATF (Authorised Treatment Facility)?
10th June 20205 min read

If you have searched around for information about scrapping your car, there’s an abbreviation you will likely have seen on several occasions: ATF.

What does ATF mean, exactly? Well, ATF stands for Authorised Treatment Facility, which gives the game away to an extent. This treatment facility, which is typically found in the form of a scrapyard, has the legal right to dismantle and dispose of scrap vehicles. 

Of course, that paragraph is only scratching the surface. Below is a comprehensive breakdown on what an ATF is, what it does, why it’s beneficial to customers, and so much more.

What is an authorised treatment facility?

As mentioned above, an authorised treatment facility deals primarily with scrap vehicles, also known as end of life vehicles (ELV). An ATF is legally allowed to do this once they have received a licence from the Environment Agency.

Simply having a licence from the EA is only the start. Stringent guidelines need to be followed at all times when dismantling and disposing of an ELV. In brief, these guidelines are separated into four individual parts:

  • Certificate of Destruction (COD) duties 
  • De-pollution processes
  • Following storage guidelines
  • Meeting recycling and recovery targets

These four areas are expanded upon in the following section.

What is the ATF car scrap process?

If you’re wondering how does an authorised treatment facility scrap a car, you have landed in the right place. Here is a quick rundown on how an ATF will deal with a vehicle once it reaches their scrapyard. 

  • Issue a COD: The Certificate of Destruction has to be issued every time a vehicle is scrapped. When you have decided that a car will go through the scrapping process, you need to login on the DVLA online system to generate the COD. A copy of the COD must be issued to the person who originally brought the vehicle to the scrapyard. 
  • De-pollution: This step is imperative for removing hazardous materials from the vehicle before it is recycled. Items such as the battery, gas tank, liquids, and catalytic converter need to be extracted. GOV.UK provides a comprehensive guide on de-polluting.
  • Store car parts safely: When the hazardous materials are removed, it’s important they are stored the right way. This means in separate, clearly labelled areas, and away from anything that may compromise safety. 
  • Meeting the recycling and recovery targets: The EVL recycling and recovery target is 95%. As a result, vehicles need to be thoroughly processed to ensure they meet the figure.

How a customer benefits from an authorised treatment facility

From a customer perspective, there are several benefits they can enjoy by using an ATF vehicle service. These include: 

  • Protecting the environment: You can be safe in the knowledge that, when you scrap your car through an ATF, you are helping the environment. Recycled vehicles can help lower the need for natural resources, save landfill space, and minimise exposure of hazardous materials.
  • Peace of mind: There’s no need to worry about your car causing further headaches in the future. An ATF will issue you a Certificate of Destruction, which shows you have no further responsibility for the scrapped vehicle.
  • Financial incentive: At one point in time, you would have to pay for your car to be scrapped. Now it’s the opposite. While different factors come into play regarding a final price, you can earn decent folding money in exchange for your scrap vehicle.
  • Versatile services: Authorised treatment facilities have the ability to accept a wide range of vehicles. This multi vehicle ATF service means they will be able to deal with everything from a three-wheeled motor to a full-size van. Furthermore, they may even be able to provide a comprehensive ATF scrap service where other scrap metal types are processed.

What if a scrapyard doesn’t have an authorised treatment facility licence?

In general, it’s unlikely for a genuine scrapyard to operate without an ATF licence. However, that doesn’t mean other businesses cannot masquerade as a scrapyard.

If you are lured in by an unscrupulous trader, there are two main reasons why they will want to get hold of your vehicle. Firstly, it’s to dismantle the car illegally. Secondly, they will hope to make a profit on the vehicle by selling it to an actual ATF.

The first scenario can be particularly detrimental for you. If the trader isn’t an ATF, they cannot produce a valid COD. Yet the COD is an essential document to let the DVLA know the car is no longer under your name. When they don’t have this information, they may believe you’re still operating the vehicle, and this could lead to fines and legal action.

If their plan is to sell the car on, you’re going to miss out on a significant slice of cash. The dealer will only be looking at the profit they can make, and this is only possible if they buy the vehicle off you for a much cheaper price than what the ATF will offer.

Unsure if a scrapyard is on the ATF register? In this case, you can browse the authorised treatment facilities public register list. This comprehensive database lists all licenced ATFs, including their permit numbers and registered addresses.

How to become an authorised treatment facility

Do you want to complete ATF registration and operate your very own authorised treatment facility? To make this a reality, it’s necessary you receive the permission and follow the set guidelines – along with the information listed above.

A suitable site for treating ELVs is an essential first step to take. To ensure the site meets regulations, you will have to contact your local council to receive planning permission and a scrap metal dealer’s licence. Waste environmental permits are also required so you can legally carry out specific treatments on-site.

Registering with the Environmental Agency is the next step. Their experts will analyse your scrapyard, checking to ensure the facility is up to the task of handling ELVs in a safe manner. If your site is deemed acceptable, the EA will issue an environmental permit. You will then be approved as an ATF.

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