Motor Vehicle Salvage Yards

Improving environmental practices and ensuring regulatory compliance at motor vehicle recycling facilities.

Loader moving an End-of-life vehicle through the recycling facilityNHDES provides industry specific Best Management Practices (BMPs) to motor vehicle recyclers to help improve environmental practices and maintain compliance at their facilities. The program also works closely with municipalities to facilitate appropriate licensing and oversight of these important facilities within their communities.

There are about 150 New Hampshire motor vehicle salvage facilities recognized by the Motor Vehicle Salvage Yards Program. These municipally licensed yards provide a variety of auto salvage services ranging from simple end-of-life motor vehicle storage (auto graveyards) to more complex full-service retail parts and scrap metal operations. Many of the facilities are "Mom & Pop" operations involving fewer than two employees, less than 5 acres of land, and an annual throughput of fewer than 500 end-of-life vehicles annually. Others are larger operations that process over 1,000 end-of-life motor vehicles (ELVs) annually using state-of-the-art technology and equipment.

For Motor Vehicle Recycling Facilities

State law (RSA 236:111-129) requires all motor vehicle recyclers to certify in their application for a town-issued, motor vehicle recyclers’ license that their salvage yard complies with best management practices (BMPs) established by NHDES. Vehicle parts can be a source of contamination, so it is important for facility operators to be aware of and understand the potential risks and Environmental Concerns at Motor Vehicle Recycling Facilities. Common tasks that pose a risk for contamination are more likely during management of vehicle fuel tanks and filters, and dismantling and storing ELVs. Because of this, understanding and following spill prevention and response BMPs is essential to protecting the environment, your property and your health. Operating under the BMPs highlighted in the Motor Vehicle Salvage Yard Environmental Compliance Manual & Self-Audit Checklist, and using other BMP resources provided by the program, will help maintain compliance with environmental regulation and avoid costly mistakes. For more information, check out the other BMPs below. If you are interested in a free and confidential facility review, you can also contact NH Pollution Prevention Program for assistance.

For Municipalities

State law (RSA 236:111-129) gives the local municipality the responsibility and authority to issue a license to operate, establish or maintain the junkyard or automotive recycling yard within their community. NHDES was tasked with providing the Best Management Practices (BMPs) for these motor vehicle recyclers to follow. Municipalities may find referencing these BMPs useful when self-regulating licensed facilities within their community. To assist local licensing officials in satisfying the BMP compliance certification and license application requirements in RSA 236:115, II and RSA 236:121, NHDES also encourages the use of the Motor Vehicle Salvage Yard Environmental Compliance Manual & Self-Audit Checklist. This manual can be used as a resource that will assist towns in determining whether a motor vehicle salvage yard certifies under the NHDES Program BMPs. Once the facility certifies, the town must provide a way to document that certification. Municipal officials can reference the Compliance Certification Statement Form created by NHDES as a suggested template in developing their certification statement.

For Active Community Members

Motor vehicles are the premier recycled consumer product in this country, largely due to the work performed by auto recyclers at motor vehicle salvage yards. Because of this, these facilities play an essential role in the state’s goal to reduce waste in New Hampshire. New Hampshire motor vehicle salvage yards are required to be licensed by the local municipality where they exist, and must certify that they comply with state environmental requirements. Auto salvage yards are required to obtain a license each year from their town or city officials. To find out if a particular auto salvage yard is currently licensed – or for general concerns or complaints – contact the municipal office in the town/city where the yard is located. If you have specific Environmental Concerns at Auto Salvage Yards, contact NHDES. In addition to town implemented oversight, NHDES conducts periodic inspections at these facilities to assess compliance.

Crushing Operations

Crushing end-of-life motor vehicles (ELVs) can lead to environmental contamination and loss of salvage value if not properly performed. ELVs should be properly prepared before they are crushed to protect your property from becoming a source of contamination, protect the health and safety of you and your employees, and save money.

Most motor vehicle fluids can be recycled at no cost to you if they are kept separate by type. However, if you do not drain the fluids before the vehicle is crushed, you will end up with a mixture of fluids that must be handled as a hazardous waste. This requires costly disposal using a licensed hazardous waste transporter. If you hire a mobile crusher operator to crush your vehicles, make sure BMPs for Mobile Vehicle Crushers & Vehicle Crushing are followed and agree who will be responsible for properly disposing of the residual fluids and other hazardous wastes generated by crushing activities. Other portions of the vehicle can be processed as scrap metal at a licensed facility.

Mercury Switch Recovery Program

Cars manufactured before 2003 may contain mercury switches. These switches, usually found in trunks and hoods lighting components, airbag and seatbelt sensors, wheel balancers and antilock braking systems, need to be handled properly when removed by dismantlers. NHDES encourages motor vehicle recyclers to participate in the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NVMSRP). This agreement is a collaboration between USEPA, Automotive Recyclers Association, End of Life Vehicle Solutions Corporation, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and the Steal Manufacturers Association, among others.

The agreement, will provide resources for mercury switch disposal through December 2021. By removing these switches, and disposing of them appropriately, motor vehicle recyclers are doing their part to divert the mercury contained in those switches from being released into the atmosphere. To enroll in the program visit the ELVS website and select “Program Enrollment." If you are already enrolled and need replacement buckets, call Environmental Quality Company (EQ) at 1-800-495-6059 or send an email request to

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Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Motor Vehicles are the #1 recycled product in the U.S., and 85% of the material in motor vehicles, by weight, is recyclable. Want to learn more about motor vehicle recycling in your community? Contact your city or town and get the facts about auto salvage yards.

Program Coordinator