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BIR 2024

Cooperation is the key to circular and sustainable EV recycling

Andreas Frossberg, the Chairman of Sweden’s National Association of Car Dealers, provides his thoughts on what the very near future holds for EVs with regard to sustainable vehicle recycling in Sweden.

 

Cooperation is the key to circular and sustainable EV recycling p
Andreas Frossberg

More than half of 2022 has passed, but we are right in the middle of maybe one of the most revolutionary times our industry has faced since the invention of the combustion engine. The change from ICE cars to EV cars is moving faster than maybe many have predicted, and with talks about banning the production of fossil fuel vehicles by 2035, the timetable is steep. But, of course, the European Parliament must negotiate the proposal before it becomes a reality.

However, we already see OEMs themselves talking about ending the production of fossil fuel vehicles even earlier than 2035. And here in Sweden, during the first quarter of this year, we saw that the pure EV car was the most sold in terms of what fuel they use.

The number of EV and hybrid cars entering our dismantlers’ yards is growing year by year at an increasing pace. Therefore, time is of the essence when it comes to preparing our members to be able to handle vehicles safely and sustainably.

Cooperation is the key to circular and sustainable EV recycling p twoOne way we have approached this was by adopting and joining the work with a branch standard for “safe handling of high voltage systems in electrical vehicles”, developed by MRF (the Swedish Association for Motor Retail Trades and Repairs), Sveriges Fordonsverkstäders Förening (free and independent workshops) and Mobility Sweden (industry organization for manufacturers and importers of cars, trucks and buses).

The industry needed a common branch standard because, in many cases, there are no directives on what applies, and we as an industry must be able to ensure that electrical safety is guaranteed when working with electric vehicles. For us, the next step with work on the branch standard is to focus on damaged cars involved in accidents which are the first line of vehicles entering dismantlers’ yards.

The work with the branch standard is a perfect example of how we must work together in the industry, from the producer to the workshop and the dismantler, to ensure that we maintain safety in handling this new type of vehicle throughout its lifecycle.

Beyond the rapidly growing number of hybrids and EVs, we also know that the Battery Regulation and the ELV Directive are two significant regulations under revision. These two will, in the end, paint a new map of how the vehicle dismantling industry will operate in the future.

The battery regulation is directly connected to the handling of EVs and the batteries they contain. Here, several articles are particularly interesting for the dismantling industry like no. 14, 52 and 59. Of course, they are not the only ones, but article 52 in particular is of concern regarding the end destination of waste batteries.

Article 52 states that:

“Operators of waste treatment facilities subject to Directives 2000/53/EC and 2012/19/EU shall hand over waste batteries resulting from the treatment of end-of-life vehicles and waste electrical and electronic equipment to the producers of the relevant batteries or, where appointed in accordance with Article 47(2) of this Regulation, producer responsibility organizations acting on their behalf or to waste management operators with a view to their treatment and recycling in accordance with the requirements of Article 56 of this Regulation”.

For the dismantling industry, it is vital that dismantlers are the ones to decide if a battery from an ELV is waste or not and if it is suitable for reusing or repurposing, in the same manner, that vehicle dismantlers deal with all parts from ELVs to continue to uphold the circularity of this unique product.

From what we know, the battery regulation will probably be in place by the end of this year. Our European organization, EGARA, continues to monitor and highlight these issues directly with the commission. For the ELV Directive, we have not seen a proposal at this time, and it looks like we shouldn’t expect one during 2022. But we probably could expect it to take the shape of a regulation instead of its current form as a directive.

But one thing is inevitable in a perhaps somewhat uncertain future; no one will be able to solve all of this alone if we want to achieve circularity. Not the car producers, not the workshops, not the insurance companies, not the dismantlers and not the recycling companies.

To be able to meet all the challenges we face, cooperation will be needed. As Franklin D. Roosevelt put it: “Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” I think this is true if we want to achieve an actual circular economy in the vehicle recycling industry.

Learn more about Sweden’s National Association of Car Dealers here

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