Interempresas.net recently featured an interview with Manuel Kindelan, the CEO of Sigrauto, where he discussed how new legislation is transforming waste management practices, driven by society’s growing awareness of resource utilization, waste reduction, and the promotion of material and product reuse – all aiming to advance the concept of a circular economy.
In this context, vehicles play a significant role, serving as a prime example of how components can be utilized in a circular manner. According to Manuel Kindelan, the General Director of Sigrauto, end-of-life vehicles embody the essence of the circular economy. They boast a remarkable “collection rate of 100%” and an impressive “95% by weight of all materials are recovered.”
Kindelan attributes the positive evolution of waste management in the last decade to the European Commission’s strong commitment to the Green Pact. Within this pact, numerous initiatives have been developed, and the Circular Economy Action Plan has emerged as a pivotal driver behind a series of new regulations in waste management. Kindelan highlights that the national legislation on managing end-of-life vehicle waste is leading the way in the European Union.
How has the waste management sector evolved in the last ten years?
Waste management has been in a process of continuous improvement for many decades, and enormous changes have taken place in this last one. Every year the sector grows and modernizes by investing in greater digitization, new technologies, more efficient machinery and many other areas with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of its activity and contributing to the circular economy.
These advances are being driven to a large extent by the regulations on waste management but also by society itself, which is increasingly aware of this area and is not only willing to make efforts to avoid inappropriate waste management, but also it also helps with the purchasing decisions that it makes and which increasingly take into account aspects related to sustainability and recyclability (and all this is also, to a large extent, thanks to regulations).
What are the main milestones during this decade in the legislative field and also from the technological point of view?
In my opinion, the firm commitment of the European Commission in its Green Pact has been crucial in many aspects, including waste management. Within the pact several initiatives have been developed, and the action plan for the Circular Economy has possibly been the main driver of a whole series of new regulations in the field of waste management.
From a technological point of view, enormous advances are being made in separation technologies where automated separation systems are being greatly developed by means of blowing, using either vision detection systems or other more advanced technologies that allow knowing the composition of the different fragments. But to this, we must add a huge increase in the degree of digitization of companies in the sector that is allowing great advances in many areas ranging from traceability, internationalization and even the application of artificial intelligence for certain processes.
What have been the main contributions of Sigrauto in the evolution of the sector in this period?
The car is a true example of circular economy. A very complex product in its composition with a collection rate of 100% and from which 95% by weight of all its materials is recovered. But also, it is a product that reaches the end of its useful life with an average age of 20 years; that is, it is very durable, which is designed to be easily repairable (you only need to see the number of workshops that exist) and which has a considerable residual value when it reaches the end of its useful life, since not only are high-value materials obtained from it, but it is possibly the product from which the most components are prepared for reuse, and there is a very mature and thriving for recovered second-hand pieces.
Sigrauto has contributed in many areas to the progress of the sector in the last decade. Thanks to the collaboration within Sigrauto of all the agents involved in the chain of treatment of vehicles at the end of their useful life —producers (manufacturers and importers) of automobiles, authorized treatment centers (CATs/scrapping yards) and facilities of fragmentation and post-fragmentation— we are able to know first-hand the problems or aspects that need to be improved or resolved and seek a consensus solution among all.
The main contributions have been fundamentally in the regulatory field, where it has been possible for Spain to currently have the most advanced regulations on end-of-life vehicles in the entire European Union. Thus, a good part of the measures that the European Commission wants to incorporate into European regulations to reduce the problems that have been detected in relation to the 2002 Directive are already contemplated in Spanish regulations. To give an example, in Spain, we possibly have the best deregistration processing system that allows us to guarantee that all vehicles (not only those contemplated in the European Directive, which are passenger cars and light commercial vehicles) will be delivered to the CATs and subjected to proper environmental treatment.
But Sigrauto has also achieved greater public awareness and awareness by informing the reality of the sector through different channels, has made it possible to have reliable statistics and figures in relation to the number of vehicles treated and the levels of recovery achieved, and has promoted research and the development in the field of the recovery of the most complex fractions of the car, getting directly involved in research projects or rewarding the most innovative projects in this field.
What are the main changes you foresee for the future in the short and medium term?
Undoubtedly, the main changes will occur with the application of the two new Regulations on batteries and their waste, which is about to come into force, and the one relating to vehicles at the end of their useful life, which we are about to know the Commission’s initial proposal.
The first already includes a whole series of important measures focused on traction batteries (usually lithium-ion) both for hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles as well as those for all those light means of transport, such as scooters and bicycles that have emerged in the last years.
As for the one that will regulate the management of vehicles at the end of their useful life, it basically seeks to avoid the existence of unaccounted-for vehicles, the export of vehicles as if they were used when in reality they are waste, the extension to all types of vehicles (especially industrial vehicles and motorcycles) and achieve a better separation of certain elements to allow more quantity, but especially quality, of certain recycled materials. As previously indicated, Spanish regulations already contemplate measures to resolve the first three objectives thanks to the deregistration processing system, the requirement that exported vehicles have to have a valid ITV and that all vehicles must be delivered in a cat.
Are Spanish companies prepared to meet the legislative requirements set by the European Union? And the public administrations?
Both companies and administrations are very prepared since, as we have mentioned, Spain has very advanced regulations that include most of the measures that are expected to be included in the future European Regulation. Although any legislative change may require certain adaptations, experience shows that it is a sector with a great capacity to adapt to novelties.
This article was sourced from www.interempresas.net