Europe – ‘In the past 30 years, China has achieved phenomenal economic growth,’ noted Prof. Duan Weng at last week’s International Automobile Recycling Congress (IARC). But the latest GDP surge of approaching 8% last year could be described as a ‘contradiction’ between economic development and indigent resources, he warned delegates.
The speaker from Tsinghua University in Beijing noted that China produces more than 22 million cars every year and that around 2 million are discarded annually – a number which is rapidly increasing. However, the most striking statistic, he added, is that China’s entire recycling industry accounts for 1% of GDP.
Meanwhile, the IARC was also told that approximately 250 tonnes of platinum and 300 tonnes of palladium are consumed each year – predominantly for the automotive industry. Mikhail Khaimov, vice president of German precious metals recycler MAIREC, noted: ‘The interesting thing is that only around 20% of these metals are recycled in all the autocatalyst, electronics and jewellery sectors combined.’
Some US$ 9 billion worth of platinum and US$ 5 billion of palladium are either not recovered at all or are ‘recovered by underground or illegal, and certainly not ecological, methods’, Khaimov contended. Rapid change was required because, in less than a year, 95% of a car must be recovered and 85% must be recycled, he reminded the audience.
Regarding this same legislative development, the European Commission’s DG Environment policy officer Artemis Hatzi-Hull commented: ‘Our overall conclusion is that the ELV (End-of-life Vehicle) Directive has given many positive results; three countries have achieved the recycling targets, while 25 countries achieved results for recycling for reuse,’ she said.
Hatzi-Hull declared that the 95% objective was ‘within reach’. This statement was met with some scepticism. For example, fellow speaker Dr Beate Kummer noted that export quotas for end-of-life vehicles are ‘enormous’, with Germany still exporting more than 80% of all used vehicles.
A detailed review of the IARC will appear in the April issue of Recycling International.
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