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Spain – one man’s auto recycling journey

Auto Recycling World talks to Juan Cuadros Santafosta, Institutional Relations Manager at Autodesguace Otoniel, S.L., in Spain, about auto recycling associations, including AEDRA, ADECOVA and SIGRAUTO, and the roles they have to play in the industry.


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Juan Cuadros Santafosta

Juan, can you provide us with a brief introduction of your involvement in the vehicle recycling industry.

My involvement in the vehicle dismantling sector began around 1987, along with the ambitions and concerns that youth gives you. My priority was to modernise our company and to lead by example. I wanted Autodesguace Otoniel, SL., to be the first authorised treatment facility for ELVs in the Valencian region. We obtained all the authorisations and permits to exercise the activity with the necessary and correct legal documentation.

I am pleased to say we achieved our goals when Autodesguace Otoniel, S.L. became the first Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF) for end of life vehicles (ELVs) in the Valencian Community. Which, of course, I am extremely proud of (our number is displayed proudly on the front of our building;  (001/CAT/VFU/CV*). Since then, I have participated in many modernisation and development processes at both regional and state levels.

Juan, can you provide some insight into AEDRA and how it supports the Spanish vehicle recycling community?

1AEDRA was constituted as a result of the Community authorities’ regulation on the management of end-of-life vehicles using the ELV Directive 2000/53/EC. Initially, some of the former scrapyards had not prioritised until it was transposed into Spanish legislation with the RD ( Royal Decree) 1383/2002. This finally led us into the conversion of being a professional industry. A significant number of what was, until then, called scrapyards disappeared, leaving only ATFs.

This led to the dignification of the vehicle breaking and recycling industry. It meant for many the transition and conversion into officially registered companies. It also meant a turning point in terms of commitment to environmental management and the ATF sector’s professionalisation, all of which have to comply with the new legislation.

During this period, Autodesguace Otoniel S.L., and the regional association, 2ADECOVA, established in May 1988, participated and still actively participates in the development and regulation of this sector.

Can you provide some background on how you came to be involved with AEDRA?

AEDRA is the Spanish Association of Automobile Scrapping and Recycling. It was constituted in March 1995 by several scrapyards in Madrid; this took great effort, as they visited all the communities, seeking the adhesion of all the scrapyards (dismantlers). And since the founding of AEDRA, I began to work actively within the board.

AEDRA is made up of all the presidents of the regional associations. Its fundamental role consists of meetings with the administrations and different agents related to the automobile industry.

Would it be possible to highlight some of the objectives of AEDRA and how they are being achieved?

As with all the associations, the first objective is the defence of the interests of its associates. The daily work consists of institutional relations, a very complex task since the sector for ATFs has many different administrations involved that can intervene in decision making. The administrations include the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Interior, and any individual autonomic administrations. All must work together to establish an agreement in the follow-up of any new legislation before implementation and attempt to avoid any damage or upheaval to the commercial operations of the companies involved.

It seems that you are keen to work with other associations linked to the auto recycling industry. What benefits do you think this brings? Also, could you explain a little more about SIGRAUTO and is this a good example of associations working together?

Both from AEDRA and the different associations, we have always been open to dialogue and reach agreements with other companies or associations related to the automotive sector. Agreements that serve to improve our business activity and create dialogue with the administration also help put an end to the activity of certain scrapyards (dismantlers) that work without any type of environmental or administrative authorisation.

3SIGRAUTO, of course, is an example of collaboration between associations. SIGAUTO was founded in May 2002, at a time of great uncertainty, since in 2000 the European Directive on ELVs came out, and in Spain, the RD (Royal Decree) was being elaborated. Those were challenging times for the scrapyard sector because there were many comments regarding the management of vehicles in the press and the automotive sector’s different agents. There was talk that manufacturers or producers would build plants all over the country to recycle ELVs.

On the other hand, there was also talk of large business groups contacting manufacturers and importers for the management of ELVs. All this worried our industry at the time. At AEDRA, we decided to sign a zero-cost agreement for the decontamination and recycling of vehicles.

Some colleagues thought that we should have established a cost for this management. Still, those involved in this were very concerned and thought that either we accepted a compromise with the manufacturers and producers (4ANFAC and 5ANIACAM) or these large corporations would break down the door. With this background, SIGRAUTO was formed with the union of ANFAC, ANIACAM, AEDRA and 6FER. With this association, we managed to close the entire chain of decontamination of the car from its conception to its total destruction.

Within SIGRAUTO, we usually have a monthly meeting to serve as a forum for discussion among the various partners that today are ANFAC, AEDRA and FER. We typically discuss any situation that arises related to the ELVs.

From time to time, we also carry out studies on the reuse and recycling percentages set by the directive and the RD, promoting different initiatives related to increasing the final fractions of the weight of vehicles with different technologies, both fragmentation and dense media; We are currently focusing our efforts on plastics.

With the power of unity behind you, what do you think will be the future challenges of auto recyclers in Spain, and what do you think would be the correct approach to overcoming them?

I don’t know if we have the power of unity behind us. Experience tells me that it is almost utopia, it’s not entirely in our grasp, but well, we are trying. ATFs currently do very important social and environmental work. Now that the circular economy is very much in the public eye and even having the support of both state and community administrations, it is not enough. We need to put an end to unfair competition, an end to illegal scrapyards, and for our government to act forcefully against them.

Today it is very difficult for us to compete with them both in the acquisition of vehicles in such a globalised market and the reuse of parts. On the other hand, the ATFs also need from the producers what they have denied us for so long, such as the references of different parts that make up the vehicles necessary for the reuse of parts and modernisation of our reusable parts supply. To this end, we are working very actively in our companies’ digitalisation, with software, platforms, and internationalisation to keep up to date. I am confident that the future of our industry is bright here in Spain. The reusable parts sector is still growing, and we all have plenty of ambition to see our industry succeed.

Please visit or visit the associations below:

001/CAT/VFU/CV* – In Spain, CAT (Centro Autorizado de Tratamiento) is the abbreviation of Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), and VFU (vehiculo fuera de uso) is the abbreviation of End of Life Vehicles (ELVs).

1AEDRA – The Spanish Association of Automobile Scrapping and Recycling

2ADECOVA – The Association of Scrap yards of the Valencian Community

3SIGRAUTO – The Spanish Association for the Environmental Treatment of End-of-Life Vehicles

4ANFAC – The Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers

5ANIACAM – The National Association of Automobile, Truck, Bus and Motorcycle Importers

6FER – The Spanish Recovery and Recycling Federation

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Juan Cuadros Santafosta at Autodesguace Otoniel S.L.

About Juan Cuadros Santafosta

Juan is the Institutional Relations Manager for Autodesguace Otoniel, SL, as well as the president of ADECOVA (the Association of Scrapyards of the Valencian Community), and the 1st vice-president of AEDRA (the Spanish Association of scrapping and recycling of automobiles), which is integrated with the working groups of SIGRAUTO.