The European automobile industry is committed to sustainability and is continuing to invest in innovation that reduces the environmental footprint of the sector.
Over the last decade, the industry has reduced energy use in production by 11.1%, water use by 40.2% and CO2 emissions by 22.8%. Waste ‘pre-consumer’ scrap is down 7.3%, a sign that manufacturers are rolling out new, more efficient production methods.
Part of the manufacturers’ commitment involves ensuring that vehicles are resource-efficient to maintain, recycle and recover. These factors are different sides of the same coin, as easy installation and removal of parts makes repair and replacement easier, as well as facilitating easy recovery and recycling.
The end of a vehicle’s life is carefully regulated. Manufacturers worked hard to meet the 85% recyclability and 95% recoverability targets for new type approvals in 2006, with the aim of ensuring that vehicles which are disposed of, are recoverable to that level.
The End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive, which covers the recycling and recovery of end-of-service vehicles provides a clear and effective framework for limiting waste from Europe’s scrapped cars, vans, trucks and buses.
However, vehicle manufacturers are only a part of the process. While automobile manufacturers have their responsibilities (including during the design phase by respecting substance restrictions, providing dismantling information etc), ELV ‘take back’ is a shared economic responsibility also borne by users, dismantlers and authorities. Vehicle manufacturers’ efforts ensure that vehicles are designed for sustainability, provide information about how to dismantle vehicles properly and contribute to the setting up of market-specific take-back networks.
This shared responsibility contributes to European resource-efficiency targets. Stakeholders working together to reuse, recycle and recover vehicles are helping to save raw materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the production of the new vehicles.
The implementation of the ELV Directive has a successful, 25-year history. However, to improve outcomes further, ACEA has formulated four recommendations on advancing recycling. These were presented in Berlin during the 15th International Automobile Recycling Congress (IARC) in March 2015:
- There is a clear need to ensure better traceability of end of life vehicles by ensuring there is a correctly implemented deregistration system in all member states.
- Member states should properly enforce the legislation on end of life vehicles to prevent illegal shipments of end of life vehicles.
- It is desirable to further explore a ban on landfill for ELVs focusing on dismantling and post-shredder technology to support even more effective recycling.
- While the Commission should ensure a coherent approach to support the recovery of ELVs across all their services, recovery and recyclability targets should always make sense from an economic point of view.