Revealed: 14% drop in cars being scrapped as metal prices fall

Fewer people are scrapping their old cars as the price they’d receive from scrap yards goes down each month, a Freedom of Information request by Motoring Research can confirm.

The data, obtained from the DVLA, shows that just 70,445 cars were issued with a certificate of destruction in January 2016, compared to 82,265 during the same period last year – a drop of 14%.

A month earlier, the number of cars being scrapped hit a low of 64,081 in December, compared to a peak of 96,568 in January 2014.

Vehicle recycling service CarTakeBack.com has been analysing the fall in scrap metal prices, observing that values last month were 65% lower than March 2015.

CarTakeBack Manager, Alison Price, told Motoring Research: “When scrap prices initially dropped we found that customers were holding onto their cars slightly longer than they usually would in the hope that prices would rise again soon. But inevitably people still need to scrap their car and, as it became apparent prices weren’t to rise again any time soon, customers accepted that prices across the UK were at a low.”

The firm says it has noticed signs of small increases in scrap metal prices in certain areas of the country, suggesting an upturn could be on the horizon. However, it points out that this could be the result of local competition – and prices could continue to decline.


Opinion

There are two sides to this story. On the one hand, it could mean people are running older, potentially unroadworthy cars on a budget because scrapping them wouldn’t release funds to go towards a slightly better model, or a deposit for a new car on finance.

Obviously it’s a worry that people might be bodging cars in order to get a few more miles out of them before scrapping them. And it’s also a concern that more cars are being abandoned or cluttering up driveways if people are holding onto them in the hope of scrap metal prices increasing.

But there are two clear advantages. In my mind, people are too keen to scrap a car at around 10 years old because it’s practically worthless and has perhaps failed an MoT on fairly simple (if costly) things like tyres or a bit of minor rust. If low scrap metal prices mean people are willing to spend money keeping cars on the road, that’s got to be good – not only for fans of future classics, but also the environment.

The other advantage is the cost of used cars. A few years ago, scrap metal prices meant you’d struggle to get a roadworthy car for less than £500 because people just used them until the MoT failed and then scrapped them for £200. But now, the ‘bangernomics’ enthusiast can get a choice of reasonable cars for less than the price of an iPad.

Andrew Brady


New legislation introduced to prevent cars being abandoned means all cars scrapped require a certificate of destruction – or the last owner could be liable for tax or face a hefty fine from the DVLA.

Out of 1.8 million vehicles scrapped each year, an estimated 600,000 are believed to be ‘slipping through the net’, according to CarTakeBack.

Price added: “Low scrap prices don’t necessarily mean there’s little value in your old car. If there’s still some life left in your car or it has some re-useable parts, it could be worth much more than scrap. CarTakeBack.com will take this into consideration when giving you an instant quote.

“Interestingly, we have seen a rise in people donating their car to charity through our charity scheme: CharityCar.co.uk. Customers can recycle their old car responsibly and donate the value to a charity of their choice, where even with a low scrap value, the donation still makes a big difference to the charity.”

The news follows the revelation that hundreds of classic cars are being kept at an airfield in Bedfordshire, seemingly abandoned after the 2009 scrappage scheme. However, correspondence seen by Motoring Research suggests that the cars could yet be pilfered for parts.

A source revealed: “Had these vehicles been indiscriminately destined for the crusher they would have long since been processed when the scrap price was circa £275 per tonne in 2009/10, rather than £40 as it is presently. It is not coincidence that these vehicles are still physical, as their status and potential to keep other classic restorations with a supply of parts has been recognised.”