At the recent International Automobile Recycling Congress (IARC 2023) in Geneva, during a panel discussion regarding ELVs, Jaco Huisman, the EU Commission’s policy officer for ELVs, discussed what is expected from the much anticipated ELV Directive, due for publication in mid-July.
A list of components that need to be recovered from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), along with those that are not suitable for reuse, is anticipated to be included in the Directive and will also encompass an annexe outlining protocols for storage and handling, depollution, and reporting, with a focus on the extraction of components for recycling, reuse, or remanufacturing.
Huisman, who is also the author of a report on critical raw materials (CRMs), addressed the IARC regarding the new regulation, emphasised the need for a “robust, new legislative framework” that is forward-looking and supports the circular economy (CE) in the automotive industry. He characterised the proposal in one word: “quality.” He acknowledged the challenge of incentivising and rewarding quality improvements, particularly in reporting and treatment, while ensuring that businesses find the circular economy approach attractive.
Huisman outlined six key areas of focus in the regulation to enhance quality in recycling, reuse, remanufacturing, and collection, including promoting more circular design in vehicle production, implementing mandatory use of recycled content, advancing treatment methods for better outcomes, enhancing governance through extended producer responsibility (EPR), expanding collection capacity and extending the scope of vehicles covered by the regulation.
Huisman said that the aim is to see an improved quality in design and production to facilitate end-of-life processes and that they strive for increased quality in recycling and collection to reintegrate materials and components into vehicles and repairs.
Regarding the new regulation’s annexe, Huisman explained that it would outline basic obligations for storage and handling, depollution, reporting, and the removal of components for reuse, recycling, or remanufacturing. He emphasised the deliberate use of the term “removal” to address both reusable parts and components that should be excluded from the shredding process. The regulation will specify a list of parts that are not suitable for reuse and require proper accounting.
Huisman also anticipated the inclusion of specifications for certain ELV fragments to ensure high-quality downstream treatment.
The approach to incorporating recycled plastic content will involve a phased implementation of a single target percentage over time. However, further feasibility studies are needed before mandatory targets can be established for steel, aluminium, alloys, and specific CRMs. The commission also aims to achieve greater consistency across EPR schemes in member states.
Huisman acknowledged the need for “pretty ambitious measures” to improve the collection by addressing the substantial number of cars lost within the system, often due to illegal exports from the EU. In the next few years, measures will be implemented to address the whereabouts of vehicles with a valid “certificate of roadworthiness” required for exported cars. These efforts are expected to reduce exports by two-thirds in the long term.