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EU recyclers prepare for ELV revolution

The incoming European regulation for end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) must incentivise cooperation between recyclers and carmakers. Only then can it succeed, according to specialists speaking at the latest European Recycling Conference.

ELVs and their recovery was a key theme of the Brussels event which was hosted by EuRICthe European Recycling Industries’ Confederation, in collaboration with its Belgian member, Denuo.

High-level EU officials and leading industry experts considered how the proposed regulation will affect the recycling industry and discussed ways to ensure circularity was at its core.

Mattia Pellegrini, head of the Commission’s waste to resources unit, set out the legislative proposal which includes circularity requirements, combatting illegal exports and the importance of integrating recycled materials in the manufacturing of new vehicles. 

Virginijus Sinkevičius, the environment commissioner, asserted the automotive sector was a powerhouse for the EU economy and was currently undergoing a vital change. ‘This green transition will not only be determined by the historic switch to electric power but also by moving to the next resource-efficiency level,’ he said.

Additional responsibility

Proposed recycled content targets were strongly welcomed by EuRIC president Olivier François who said they were vital to pull demand for plastics recycling. He also pointed out that every target in the ELV directive from 2000 had been achieved on time by 2015.

‘We, as the recycling industry, are very proud to achieve these targets through our own means. However, the additional responsibility granted by the proposed ELV Regulation through the extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes will have to incentivise an effective cooperation with carmakers. If not, achieving some of the ambitious objectives set by the proposed regulation will be out of reach. This requires a strong collegiality at the board of future collective EPR schemes.’

More circular cars

Ragnar Crona, manager of circular economy at Volvo Cars, insisted that sustainability had become as important as safety. ‘Circularity of vehicles has moved to the centre of Volvo Cars’ purpose.’

Poul Steen Rasmussen, ceo of Genan and president of EuRIC’s mechanical tyre recycling branch spoke about eco-design requirements, pointing out that recyclers often faced risks due to chemical legislation.

Kris Van der Plas, head of public affairs at LKQ Europe referenced the potential of remanufacturing, which is estimated to yield up to an 85% reduction in total energy usage and a 70% cut in carbon emissions. We expect the global remanufacturing market to double between 2023 and 2030,’ he said.

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