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Call made for urgent review of the EU’s ELV Directive

Germany – Illegal treatment and export of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) is among the major challenges to be addressed in Europe, according to Artemis Hatzi-Hull, waste management expert at the European Commission’s DG Environment. She was speaking at a press conference during the International Automobile Recycling Congress held this week in Germany’€™s capital Berlin.

Furthermore, the European Commission is considering the introduction of additional measures to improve the recycling of ELVs. Among others, Hatzi-Hull mentioned alignment of the reporting system and the methods of calculation used by EU member states. The aim is to increase the informative value and reliability of the statistics, with a view to making the collected data easier to compare.

DG Environment believes it is necessary to provide dismantling companies with ‘better information’ on recyclable materials and to adapt vehicle recycling processes ‘to keep pace with continual developments in automotive technologies’. Hatzi-Hull’s overall assessment of the ELV Directive which entered force in the year 2000 was positive.

The directive had been implemented in all EU member states and had produced positive results, both ecologically and economically, while toxic materials in vehicles had been practically eliminated. Member states had also made good progress in meeting required recycling rates.

Speaking on behalf of German recycler Scholz Group, Beate Kummer criticised illegal exports. ‘We still do not know what happens to around 1.4 million end-of-life vehicles from Germany each year,’ she pointed out. ELVs were subject to illegal disposal in Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia – a fact that was likely to ‘seriously discourage’ would-be investors in the recycling industry as it would mean a lower calculable input for recyclers, she stressed.

The Scholz Group operates a treatment plant for shredder residues at Espenhain near Leipzig and has invested some Euro 60 million in ELV treatment technology since 1991. The company claims to be ‘one of the few’ meeting the 95% recycling rate prescribed by the ELV Directive. But although experts estimate the number of ELVs generated in Germany at around 1 to 1.5 million per year, less than half this number are actually being recycled within the country.

For this reason, said Kummer, the ELV Directive required urgent review, with more exact definitions of ‘end-of-life vehicle’ and ‘used car’ being a necessity. And she added: ‘In future, exporters should have to prove that the goods being exported are used cars and not end-of-life vehicles.’ Until now, the burden of proof has sat with customs officers.

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