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ARA expo 2021 lead

ELV Recycling: Challenges in Spain


Meritxell Barroso, CEO of ECONIA, an environmental engineering and consulting company, tells us about the pros and cons of the ELV Directive with concern to the recycling sector in Spain. Although a lot of positivity, there are still some tasks to be carried out.


Meritxell Barroso Spain
Meritxell Barroso

Every year, end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) generate between 7 and 8 million tonnes of waste in the European Union, which must be managed correctly.

The legislation on end-of-life vehicles (ELV Directive) aims at making dismantling and recycling of this waste more environmentally friendly. It sets clear quantified targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of the ELVs and their components.

This legislation was transposed into the Spanish legal system in 2002 (RD1383/2002), which meant significant advances in the management of ELVs.

Firstly, the legislation guaranteed the delivery of ELVs to specifically authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) and therefore, the end of abandonment of this type of waste. It led to a significant professionalisation and technification of ATFs, to ensure correct environmental management of the elements extracted from the vehicle and the recovery of parts and components. Moreover, they are the only facilities that can demonstrate the end-of-life of a vehicle through the issuance of a certificate of destruction.

This legislation also included the application of the extended producer responsibility principle, as well as the possibility of the subscription of voluntary agreements, both aspects related to the achievement of the recycling, recovery and reuse objectives.

Various aspects, such as new legislation published on: waste, its hierarchy, the obligation of the information of agents involved in their production and management and the need to standardise the data that each Member State sends to the Commission annually, in reference of the fulfilment of objectives made the publication of new regulations necessary (RD 20/2017).

The 2017 legislation has been of great help in three aspects:

  • it has regulated the temporary handover of ELVs discharged for training centres;
  • it has avoided double financing in the management of ELVs; and above all;
  • it has increased the professionalisation of authorised ELV treatment centres.

Since then, it has defined more specifically the operations carried out by these facilities and has included clear objectives of preparation for the reuse of parts and components that must be demonstrated annually.

Despite all these improvements, there are still tasks to be carried out, which are repeatedly demanded by the sector, the main ones being:

  • Limit the time that a vehicle may be in a temporary deregistered state since the current limit causes a large number of unknown ELVs’ whereabouts.
  • Regulate the e-commerce platforms for the sale of spare parts extracted from vehicles (most come from illegal facilities).
  • Create a single registration in the EU of deregistered vehicles, to avoid exports/imports of ELVs.
  • The necessity to include all types of vehicles in the scope of the regulations. Therefore, taking into account those vehicles of greater and lesser weight than passenger vehicles (3.500 tonnes): motorcycles and industrial vehicles (trucks, caravans, industrial, agricultural machinery etc.) The lack of regulation regarding the environmental treatment of these vehicles and the facilities licensed for this activity leads to environmentally wrong practices, resulting in severe consequences for the environment, public health and the economy of the industry. In turn, this means that a high percentage of industrial vehicles taken out of commission are not managed or treated by appropriately prepared and authorised companies, which in parallel results in activities and an economy entirely outside all tax legislation.
  • Know how VOC legislation can affect the operations of ATFs, taking into account the composition of plastics (with the presence of VOCs)

Therefore, there is an urge for the assessment and evaluation of this directive, and the publication of a new ELVs Directive that will include these aspects will match the current needs. Also, new legislation with more precise definitions and criteria will oblige Member States to take a step forward in the ELV treatment sector, which we await eagerly.

About Meritxell Barroso – CEO of ECONIA

Meritxell has a degree in Chemistry (UB), a Masters in Business and Environmental Quality (URL) and an International Masters in Business Administration (URL-Manhattan College New York).

In addition to the co-management and strategic direction of ECONIA, she is responsible and project manager for different circular economies, eco-innovation and eco-design projects, as well as, LIFE and HORIZON2020 projects.

She specialises in advising and accompanying the public administration in defining environmental policies and actions.

In turn, she directs different automotive business associations related to the environment, tactically and operatively.

Contact Meritxell at

About ECONIA (

ECONIA is an environmental engineering and consulting company that aims to contribute to the sustainable growth of society and achieve responsible economic and industrial development with the environment.

They offer an integral service of advice, consulting and engineering concerning the environment to private companies. They also help public administrations in the definition of environmental policies.

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