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Car recyclers in Argentina battle bureaucracy

An estimated 90 000 cars are deregistered in Argentina every year, according to Maximilano Marques of Nuevo Horizonte. ‘But our recycling laws are very strict – we can dismantle and reuse only 30 different car parts,’ the entrepreneur points out.

Nuevo Horizonte processes 1500 end-of-life vehicles per year at its site in Buenos Aires and a second recycling plant is being constructed, Marquestold the recent International Automotive Recycling Congress in Vienna. There are around 13 million cars on the road in Argentina, which is home to 44 million people, and the average age of the fleet is 17 years.

Problematic parts

Marques complains that day-to-day business for Argentina’s car recycling sector is anything but easy. ‘Car recycling legislation is incredibly tough. We are allowed to take out no more than 30 parts, such as the engine, doors and the transmission system,’ Marques says. ‘As a result, many parts have to be destroyed – seats, lights, wheels, rims, you name it,’ he adds.

Scrap yards operate with ‘barely any profitability’ due to a ban on selling high-value car parts. ‘We’ve had to throw away top-quality Audi and BMW parts. Parts from virtually brand-new cars,’ Marques says. Argentina legislators have also banned the import of used automotive parts.

This is a recipe for disaster, the entrepreneur argues. ‘Robbery has reached an all-time high due to unavailability of used car parts. Car theft is also a big problem with more than 50 000 vehicles stolen every year.’

Heavy punishments

Regulations require vehicles to be processed within 15 days. ‘You can imagine there are high costs to comply with such strict laws,’ Marques notes. Scrap yards are overseen by the police with what is seen a ‘no-mercy’ type of authority. ‘A breach results in serious fines, closure of business or even jail,’ Marques tells the Vienna assembly. Not long ago, his company was forced to close for 40 days and suffered a big loss.

‘Our situation is very frustrating. We are throwing away thousands and thousands of valuable car parts every year. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I want to learn. I have the dream to take the best practices from Europe back to my country,’ he concludes hopefully.

The full IARC report will be featured in the upcoming issue of Recycling International

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