Berlin -- The recycling of end-of-life vehicles in Europe has taken great steps forward in recent years. However, there are still a number of challenges that need to be faced going into the future. These include in particular the illegal treatment and exporting of end-of-life vehicles, stated Artemis Hatzi-Hull, who works on waste management at the Directorate General for the Environment in the European Commission, at the press conference of the International Automobile Recycling Congress IARC 2015 in Berlin today.
Moreover, the EU Commission is considering the introduction of additional measures to further improve the recycling of end-of-life automobiles. Among other points, Artemis Hatzi-Hull mentioned the alignment of the reporting system and the methods of calculation used by the various EU member states. The aim is to increase the informative value and reliability of the statistics, with a view to making the collected data easier to compare. Further consideration is also being given to providing dismantling companies with better information on recyclable materials and adapting vehicle recycling processes to keep pace with continual developments in automotive technologies.
As Artemis Hatzi-Hull emphasised at the press conference, the overall assessment of the European End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, which came into force in the year 2000, was positive. The Directive has been implemented in all of the EU member states and has produced positive results, both ecologically and economically. In the meantime, toxic materials in vehicles have been practically eliminated. The member states have also made good progress in meeting the required recycling rates.
Speaking on behalf of the German recycling enterprise Scholz Group, Beate Kummer also criticised the illegal exports. “We still do not know what happens to around 1.4 million end-of-life vehicles from Germany each year,' she said at the press conference. She has a body of evidence from Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia proving that end-of-life vehicles are being illegally disposed of. These facts are seriously discouraging for would-be investors in the recycling industry as they mean lower calculable input for recycling companies, which they need in order to invest in treatment plants and equipment.
The Scholz Group itself operates a treatment plant for shredder residues from end-of-life vehicle recycling in Espenhain near Leipzig and has invested some 60 million euros in end-of-life vehicle treatment technology since 1991. As a result, Scholz is one of the few companies reliably meeting the 95-per-cent recycling rate prescribed by the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive since the beginning of 2015. Nevertheless, the problem remains that although experts estimate the number of end-of-life vehicles generated in Germany at around 1 to 1.5 million per year, less than half of this number are actually being recycled within the country.
For this reason the European End-of-Life Vehicles Directive urgently needs reviewing, warned Beate Kummer in Berlin. The Scholz spokeswoman also sees a necessity to define the terms ‘end-of-life vehicle’ and ‘used car’ more exactly. Furthermore, she says the burden of proof should be reversed. “In future, exporters should have to prove that the goods being exported are used cars and not end-of-life vehicles,' she said. Until now, customs officers have had the burden of proof. Moreover, Scholz is calling for additional regulations in order to better record end-of-life cars within the EU.
Europe’s automobile industry also sees a need to act concerning the recycling of end-of-life cars. However, not with regard to the End-of-Life Vehicles Directive: The Directive has proved its efficacy, emphasised Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), at the press conference. He advocates retaining the Directive unchanged and sees a greater need for improvement in other areas. The requirement to have proof of recycling should not be the exception, but the rule, said the ACEA representative.
Furthermore, the ACEA is in favour of standardised implementation of the Directive throughout Europe. The important point is an even playing field for all proper plant operators. In addition, the ACEA wants further steps to be taken to promote post-shredder technology. This treatment technique is the most suitable method of recycling end-of-life vehicles, emphasised Erik Jonnaert in Berlin.
Regarding the ongoing revision processes of exemptions to the ELV directive in Annex II, Mr Jonnaert also emphasised that the automotive industry has provided a significant contribution to heavy metals reductions. “Any further reduction should be based on economic & technical progress”, concluded Mr Jonnaert.
ICM AG is an internationally leading congress organiser that specialises in the field of recycling. With a total of four congresses per year, ICM covers key topics of the circular economy, primarily the recycling of electrical and electronic goods, end-of-life automobiles and batteries. The congresses are held alternately in various countries of Europe, North America and Asia. You can find an overview of the upcoming congresses here.