At the end of 2021, the European commission’s, Eurostat, released figures for end-of-life (ELV) reuse, recycling and recovery, totals in 2019. The data takes approximately two years to gather.
Since 2015, EU Member States are required to meet rates for reuse and recycling of ≥ 85% and for reuse and recovery of ≥ 95%, by an average weight per vehicle.
In 2019, the reuse and recycling rate for end-of-life vehicles in the EU stood at 89.6%, 2.3% higher than in 2018 (87.3%) and 1.7% higher than in 2017 (87.9%) (see table 1 below).
Table 1: Total recycling and reuse rate of end-of-life vehicles, 2008–2019 (% and tonnage of the weight of vehicles)
Five EU Member States reported reuse and recycling rates of 95.0% or more in 2019, these countries included Poland (118.8%), Luxembourg (96.7%), Croatia (96.3%), Bulgaria (95.8%) and Slovakia (95.5%) another five reported rates in the range of 90.0% to 94.9%. Twelve reported rates in the range of 85.0% to 89.9%, and two Member States reporting rates falling in the range of 84.2% to 84.7%; for missing reporting countries the EU aggregates are calculated from available years applying trend or median estimates.
According to the report on Eurostat, Malta reported a rate of 54.4% in 2016 and 56.1% in 2017, as parts of materials arising from depollution and dismantling were stored at the site of authorised treatment facilities, pending export for further treatment at favourable market prices and also to limit shipments expenses. Therefore, Malta did not report such materials in any of the tables pursuant to Commission Decision 2005/293/EC.
Also, in 2019, Greece reported a rate of 69.7% due to the low price of metal scrap: as in year 2015, this event was causing temporary stocking at the dismantling facilities sites. And the rate of 118.8% reported in 2019 by Poland is due to the treatment of stocks of parts of ELVs at dismantling and shredding sites that had not been treated in the previous years.
For the reuse and recovery rate, the rate for the EU has risen from 85.3% in 2009 to 95.1% in 2019, with an increase of 2.2% compared to 2018 (92.9%) (see Table 2 for further information).
Table 2 here – Table 2: Total recovery and reuse rate of end-of-life vehicles, 2008–2019 (% of the weight of vehicles)
Nineteen Member States reported rates above 95.0% and three Member States reported rates falling in the range of 90.0% to 94.9% in 2019.
For missing reporting countries the EU aggregates are calculated from available years applying trend or median estimates.
Adam Malyszko, CEO of the Association of Car Recycling (FORS) in Poland commented:
“Exceptionally high recycling and recovery rates reported by Poland result from incorrect qualification.
Poland must have added waste from vehicles intended for recovery and recycling from other years for this report. According to Commission Decision 2005/293/EC, waste other than that resulting from vehicles disposed of in a given relevant year cannot be included in the data. Any rate higher than 100% is, by definition, impossible to achieve.
Besides, in my opinion, Decision 2005/293/EC is contrary to Directive 2000/53/EC, because it allows to qualify as recovery, recycling and reuse the weight of waste that ended in places other than dismantling stations. The fact that 50% of the weight of the vehicle is given over to a dismantling station does not mean, that the remaining 50% has been recovered, recycled or reused.
Unfortunately, Decision 2005/293/EC allows for such treatment and some member states benefit from it. In addition, according to the definition from Directive 2000/53/EC, waste used for filling post-mining excavations is treated as recycling.
That is the reason why some member states reported such high rates. Had the definition of recycling given by Directive 2000/53/EC been the same as the definition given by Directive 2008/98/EC, it would be very difficult, even impossible, for some member states to achieve the required targets. And of course, it would be very expensive.
In my statement, submitted as part of the ongoing review of Directive 2000/53/EC, I indicated the need to amend Decision 2005/293/EC and the need to change the definition of recycling.”
Mr Malyszko added:
“The significant problem, that strongly affects the data reported by Poland for the 2019, despite exceeding 100%, arises from the fact, that these recycling and recovery rates apply to only 50% of dismantled cars, which were issued with a COD. Closely 50% of ELVs were treated in the grey economy.
Today we estimate the grey economy in Poland at the level of 60%.
Article 5 of The Directive 2000/53/EC clearly states:
“Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure:
— that economic operators set up systems for the collection of all end-of life vehicles…”
The recycling and recovery rates specified in the Directive also applies to all end-of life vehicles.
To be more specific about the recovery and recycling rates calculating method in Poland, please note the formula below that clearly indicates the way of counting:
The formula for calculating the levels of recovery and recycling including re-use.
PR – Recycling Level
PO – Recovery level
M – The unladen weight of vehicles picked up in a given accounting year.
P – Mass of recovered parts from M
O – Mass recovered from M
R – Mass recycled from M
According to the rules applicable in Directive 2000/53 / EC, the mass P + O cannot be greater than the mass M, and the masses P + R cannot be greater than the mass M.
Therefore, the level of recovery/recycling, including re-use, must not exceed 100%.”
HenkJan Nix, General Secretary at European Group of Automotive Recycling Associations (EGARA), provided a comment on the latest Eurostat figures:
“Looking at the figures, we have seen reportings of more than 100% before. There are several reasons why figures that normally should be representative exceed 100%:
- Reporting is over a year. Sometimes a lot of vehicles are issued with a COD, but not treated the same year. If the year after, fewer cars get a COD, but the materials are collected and reported, the percentage gets over a 100%;
- Sometimes unregistered vehicles need to be dismantled according to licenses. Or vehicles that for other reasons get no CODs. This means fewer CODs than actually treated vehicles are reported, but the materials are collected and reported. This could even mean the surplus should have gone to another country if the vehicle left the registration system as export rather than deregistered via a COD;
- Different interpretations of definitions.
EGARA has pointed this out to the ELV team of DG Environment. We hope the new Regulation will take care of this in an effective way. Besides that, harmonisation of definitions was one of our main items in the consulations. We expect the merge of several Directives and Regulations will sort this out, as well as harmonisation with Reach and the WFD as the most important to mention.
Another thing to consider is to what degree the given percentages are extrapolated. This depends per country. In some national EPR systems, only a share of vehicles is monitored (like 15%, so the reported figures can’t be representative for all treated ELVs, some are about 85% and only the remaining 15% is extrapolated), some countries get the figures from all their ATFs so they are in fact representative for all COD issued ELVs. EGARA is of opinion that the share of ELVs that are extrapolated needs to be presented as well for a realistic image. Combining this with export figures starts to give insight into what could be going on in and between countries.
We will not be surprised if next years anomalies like 100+% happen again, but they might be levelled out if registration systems keep better track of export and maybe even just by levelling out years with each other. Apart from that, just looking at the figures never is enough, knowing why the figures are what they are is way more important and gives insight into what’s really going on.
We hope and expect that the new Regulation figures will be more accurate and more explanation will be given.”