A mountain road – VW Recycling for sustainability

Source of raw materials: 95% of your Volkswagen can be recycled and re-used

Is your Volkswagen about to reach its final decommissioning? Certified recycling companies will make sure that 95% of your car is recycled and re-used. Learn more about the recycling process here and the statutory conditions for a free-of-charge return.

Recycling-oriented construction

Sustainability is an integral part of the entire end-of-life vehicle process chain:

  • Product planning
  • Production
  • Recycling

These targets demand the execution of a range of activities and measures, starting early on in the development stage of your Volkswagen. During its production and service life, you contribute to environmental preservation, for example by helping conserve resources.


  • We make sure that all operating fluids can be removed from the end-of-life vehicle and that parts which are to be removed can be easily detached.
  • One of the integral aspects of the environmental goals within technical development is preventing the production of harmful substances.
  • The use of recycled material is permitted for many components that are not relevant to vehicle safety, as long as they meet the same quality requirements as primary materials.
  • All plastic components are labelled according to internationally applicable ISO standards so as to enable clear identification.
A road above a body of water leading into the mountains

Recycled materials

In the current Polo, recycled materials can be used in various components, including:

  1. Light module
  2. Wheel housing liner
  3. Toothed belt cover
  4. Door trim of the main body
  5. Floor covering
  6. Drag reduction underbody panelling
  7. Sill panel trim
  8. Luggage compartment floor
  9. Wheel housing trim

Recycling process


Your end-of-life vehicle will then be prepared for recycling. Components or fluids that have been removed shall be collected separately and can be re-used, recycled or re-purposed.

  • The battery is removed.
  • Airbags and belt tensioners are neutralised.
  • All operating fluids (fuel, engine, gear and shock absorber oil, brake fluid, coolant, refrigerant from the air conditioning system) are removed.
Some blue barrels for liquids, which are stacked sideways on top of each other

Following the removal of certain components, they can be immediately re-introduced into the recycling circuit. In the vehicle press, the vehicle is pressed and therefore prepared for the shredder.

  • Catalytic converters are removed in order to recover the precious metals inside them, namely platinum, palladium and rhodium.
  • Wheels and tyres are removed.
  • Components and powertrains are removed for use as used replacement parts.
  • The removal of plastic parts for material recycling depends on the economic framework and the current market demand for recycled materials.
A compressed red car prepared for the shredder

The remaining pre-treated body is broken down into fist-sized pieces in the shredder and then separated into several material groups according to a multi-level sorting system:

  • Air-stream sorting
  • Magnetic separation
  • Eddy currents

Re-usable scrap metal accounts for 75% of the entire vehicle.

  • Ferrous and steel materials can be used as raw material for high-quality steel.
  • Non-ferrous metals, such as copper, aluminium and zinc, are filtered out of the heavy fraction shredder scrap and treated further.
  • The light fraction shredder scrap contains the seats from your end-of-life vehicle, amongst other parts.
Detailed view of a part of the shredder that will separate VW materials into several material groups
Post-shredder technology

The shredder residues (light fraction shredder scrap and non-metal elements of the heavy fraction shredder scrap) still contain valuable organic materials. In post-shredder processes, such as the Volkswagen SiCon process, residues are reduced even further and separated from one another, allowing them to be re-used.

  • Processed shredder granulate – composed of hard plastics – can be used in steel production as a replacement for heavy oil or coal dust.
  • Shredder fluff made up of textile fibres and seat foam can replace high-quality coal dust as a de-watering agent for sewage sludge.
  • Shredder sand composed of glass, rust and paint residue can be used as construction material following additional processing.
VW shredder residues on an assembly line