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The future of the ELV industry is at stake

Olivier FRANCOIS, President of the steering committee IARC, and President of EuRIC, discusses topics raised during this year’s International Automotive Recycling Congress and their possible effects on the ELV industry.

 

The future of the ELV industry is at stake p
Olivier Francois

Three fundamental questions were raised during the IARC 2022 earlier this year:

1. The problem of the EPR scheme: the European Commission wants to impose the creation of “ELV” EPR-scheme (eco-organization) managed by the manufacturers on the occasion of the recast of the ELV Directive, which will be published in the coming months: the whole profession is very worried about this idea which contradicts the success of the recycling profession which, during the 20 years of the current Directive, has been able to organize itself perfectly freely to reach the recycling (85%) and recovery (95%) rates of ELVs in the EU.

We have reiterated that car manufacturers do not have the required expertise, equipment or know-how to recycle end-of-life vehicles: to imagine a sudden decision to transfer the entire management of the sector from one day to the next from our companies (dismantlers and shredders) to car manufacturers, would result in a considerable weakening of the profession, as was observed in the WEEE sector: the objective of the eco-organizations is not to increase recycling, but to reduce the expenses of the manufacturers: since 1992, date of creation of various packaging EPR-scheme in different member states, we have 30 years of return of experience on this subject, and we must insist on reminding the authorities of this essential information…

2. The obligation to propose used spare parts: it was important because of the presence of the European authorities and their consultants at this IARC congress to recall another essential element: the profession is not opposed to a progressive approach in terms of dismantling, but we want to firmly affirm that we prefer market creation approaches (“pull”), to those of dismantling obligations (“push”) of which nobody knows if they correspond to an existing market: At the end of the congress, I pointed out that the recent French experience with the used spare parts regulation, which obliges car repairers to provide a quote containing an alternative of used spare parts to new parts, was infinitely more effective than a “dry” obligation of dismantling rate per ELV, which leads to accumulations of parts that will have to be sent to the shredder for the most of them finally.

3. Recycled plastics in new cars: global plastics are steadily increasing and represent 12 to 15% of the weight of new cars. Manufacturers are demanding, but they still need to be provided with the volumes that will enable them to ensure greater use of recycled plastics in new cars. Post-shredding treatment is now widely developed and available at the industrial scale, with quality production matching the car manufacturers’ standards.

At the European level, plastics used in the transport sector represent 10% (mainly automotive) of ELVs, but only 19% are recycled and recovered, of which nearly half are burned for energy recovery. 

In the state of the text known at the level of the European recast of the ELV Directive, the objective of the European Commission is that new vehicles put on the market should integrate 15% (31kg) of recycled plastics in relation to the total mass of plastics (208kg) by 2030, and 20% (42kg) by 2035. In addition, a quarter of this incorporation must come from ELVs: this is what is known in Brussels as the “closed loop”: it is obviously a very structuring element for the future of the “ELV plastics” sector.

 

For all these reasons, we invite the ELV industry to the next IARC session in 2023, June 21-23, in Geneva, which will allow us to give a last push before the finalization of this new European regulation on ELVs, with consequences all over the world: the future of the ELV industry is at stake in the coming months, and IARC 2023 will be the opportunity, as was IARC 2022, to find an intelligent modus vivendi with manufacturers to implement the text that will be published.

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