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Ghost cars are leftovers of the deadly flood

The floods that wreaked havoc in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands last summer left a trail of car wrecks that has still not been cleaned up, according to Catherine Lenaerts. The Febelauto frontwoman says countless abandoned vehicles linger by the side of the road across Wallonia, which reported a death toll of 170.

‘It was unexpected and tragic,’ Lenaerts says looking back on the events of last July. ‘Many of our car recycling partners tell us that destroyed cars continue to come into the yard,’ she tells delegates at the annual International Automobile Recycling Congress (IARC) in Basel.

Some can be easily identified as flooded cars, but some slip through the cracks. Febelauto has come up with some tips on how to identify them so they don’t cause issues downstream. ‘The smell tends to give it away more than anything, and traces of mud or debris hidden in the cracks of the interior.’

Lenaerts cites some worst case scenarios that saw several facilities get ruined overnight. One such example is Car Parts & Recycling, located near Liege. ‘They had just installed state-of-the-art equipment to boost processing capacity to 750 end-of-life vehicles per year when the flood happened. It virtually tore the site in two,’ she recalls. ‘It took the whole team weeks to get rid of all the water, mud and waste – it was everywhere. Not to mention the damage it did to the dismantling stations.’

Febelauto, which organises car recycling across Belgium, supports its members in the ‘exhausting’ clean-up. ‘I’m proud to say our country has achieved a 95% recycling rate for end-of-life vehicles. However, catastrophic events such as these put us back years. Not least because not all of the damage is covered by insurance. It’s very discouraging. That’s why it’s so important we stick together,’ Lenaerts tells the audience in Basel.  

Lenaerts citing the most pressing issues facing the automotive recycling sector.

Curious to hear more about what was discussed at the IARC? Recycling International will publish a detailed review of the 2-day conference in issue 5!

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