End of life
At the end of a motor vehicle’s working life, it is dismantled, and its parts either re-used or recycled. 95% of a modern vehicle can now be recycled with waste treatment and handling ensuring that the environment is protected and that the process is sustainable.
Responsible manufacturers take a holistic view when considering opportunities to recycle and recover material at the end of a product’s life. Indeed, virtually all of a car, van, bus or truck can be recycled using modern techniques. Scrap metal is recovered for re-use, plastic particles are used to reduce iron, and seat cushions are broken down for use in various chemical industrial processes.
In partnership with the recycling industry, auto makers have also set up national networks in European member states and guided dismantlers in de-pollution and recycling procedures. These now provide consumers with a convenient and cost-free means to return their vehicles.
Through a combination of innovation in recycling and recovery technology, material management and information systems that are unique among manufacturing industries, the industry can demonstrate reusability and recovery rates requested by legislation, leading to reduced waste-to-landfill and improved vehicle recyclability.
Automobile manufacturers however face a major challenge: balancing goals in recyclability with targets in other areas including CO2 reduction, improved safety and reliability, while making sure vehicles remain affordable for the customer.
End-of-Life Vehicle rules
The End-of-Life Vehicle Directive and the Directive on Reusability, Recyclability and Recoverability of motor vehicles set new requirements for vehicle recycling. Today, new vehicles must demonstrate reusability and/or recyclability of at least 85%, and reusability and/or recoverability of at least 95% by weight, if measured against the international standard ISO 22620.
These rules governing automotive component recycling have sometimes proven complex and inflexible. The End-of-Life Vehicle Directive is a clear test case where better regulation principles, espoused by the European institutions, should be applied. Simplification and harmonisation with other legislation must be the goal. Regulatory targets that do not generate cost-effective environmental gains must be reviewed. Sector specific material restrictions are also unacceptable. Finally, the industry stresses that product-focused rules should be identical across the EU to maintain the integrity of the single market.
And finally, an integrated approach – with the automobile industry, the recycling business, legislators and customers working together – is the best way to ensure continued progress in vehicle recycling.