The European commission’s, Eurostat, recently released the figures for end-of-life (ELV) reuse, recycling and recovery, totals in 2018. The data takes approximately two years to gather.
The average overall ELV recycling target of 95% for the European Union – 27 countries (from 2020) was 92.9%in 2018 lower than the previous year by 0.8% when the average figure was 93.7%. The ELV recycling and reuse target of 85% was exceeded for the sixth year running with an overall average of 87.3%.
Greece exceeded the overall ELV recycling target of 95% with 108.8%, an increase of 9.3% compared to the previous year. Although the volume of ELVs recorded through reuse and recovery was just 49,783 tonnes, it was still a large increase compared to the 2017 figure of 38,462 tonnes.
Other EU countries achieving the overall ELV recycling target included: Czechia, The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Croatia, Norway, Belgium, Finland, Cyprus, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Ireland. Latvia achieved the highest increase percentage compared to the previous year with 96%, up by 11.9% in 2017. Belgium and Finland both shared 97.3%, the same as the last year.
Countries that fell short of the 95% overall target included Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Estonia, Liechtenstein and Italy. The lowest figure of 82.6% from the information available, was achieved by Italy.
The UK has had the highest reuse, recycling and recovery tonnage levels for the previous two years but France has taken their top spot with 1,617,676 tonnes, an increase of half a million tonnes on the previous year. Whereas the UK produced 1,475,215 tonnes in 2018, a slight decrease compared to 2017’s 1,478,124 tonnes.
Since 2016, the Eurostat data for ELV reuse, recycling or recovery, recycling rate has been calculated against a vehicle base weight of 1,130 kg per vehicle compared to 971 kg before 2016, which is an increase of over 16%. Although positive in terms of recycling, the increased vehicle weights have made these targets more challenging to achieve since the change to the statistical average made in 2015.
Some factors to consider when looking at the difficulty in hitting the targets, other than the increased vehicle weights, can also be attributed to the fact that recycling markets for some shredder residue material, such as plastics are still tricky. Other challenges look at how bespoke energy from waste plants to handle waste from ELVs are limited, and landfill could be a cheaper option for residue. And another factor is data not being recorded properly when ELVs are handled outside of the formal ELV collection system, which is provided by vehicle manufacturers.
Henk Jan Nix, European Group of Automotive Recycling Associations (EGARA) General Secretary, said:
“In Europe, auto recycling is performed at a very high level. Hardly any waste ends up at the wrong places. Vehicles get more complex every year and the targets in the ELV Directive are high. Even if targets are not fully reached, if the results are close, a very good job is still done. We hope the new Directive will lead to a better playing field for an even better performance.”