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UK misses 95% reuse and recovery target in ELVs

Bailed Cars - ELVsThe European Commission recently released data through agency Eurostat showing a decline in End of Life Vehicle (ELVs) recycling and recovery rate in 2016 for the UK.

Compared with the previous year’s 96.9%, 2016 saw 92.2%, which was a 4.7% difference therefore missing the statutory 95% EU target for that year.

The total number of end-of-life vehicles reported in the EU-28 rose considerably, from 6.3 million in 2008 to 9.0 million in 2009. According to the statistics provided, this figure can mainly be attributed to national scrapping schemes of which 13 countries established scrapping schemes compared to just 3 countries in 2008. By 2016 this figure decreased to just over 6 million, a decreased figure which is mostly due to ending the scrapping schemes.

As for compliance with targets, in 2015-2016 EU Member States were required to meet rates for reuse and recycling of more than or equal to 85% and for reuse and recovery of more than or equal to 95% by an average weight per vehicle.

Salvaged vehicle reuse rate
Total recovery and reuse rate of ELVs 2008 – 2016

The rates calculated for the EU-28 for reuse and recycling stood at 87% and for reuse and recovery at 92.7% in 2016. The UK’s figure for reuse and recycling in 2016 was 86.4% exceeding the minimum rate of 85% and the UK’s reuse and recycling figure for the same year was 92.2%, a decrease of 4.7% of the previous year’s 96.9%. 9 other EU Member States also did not meet the minimum reuse and recovery rate of 95%, which included Cyprus, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

A Defra spokesperson said: “The UK’s ELV reuse, recycling and recovery rate in 2016 reflects a change in how we analysed our data, with the recycling rate calculated against a significantly higher base weight – 1130 kg per vehicle compared with 971 kg the previous year.

“Despite this change, the rate remains high. As set out in our Resources and Waste Strategy, we will continue to consider whether links between target obligations and achievement are sufficiently robust to drive recycling and recovery investment in the sector.”

When considering the increasing vehicle weights, British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) technical director Howard Bluck, agreed this decrease in the overall recycling rate can be linked to this. He said, “We believe this is due, in part, to the average vehicle weight increasing to 1,130kg and issues affecting the post-shredder recycling and recovery infrastructure. There have been several reports from members that ELVs arrive into ATFs having already been stripped of their higher-value parts, such as catalytic converters.

“The sector faces further challenges such as use of plastic and composites replacing parts previously made from metals. Additionally, we are concerned that recent changes to chemicals legislation (specifically the recasting of the POPS Regulation) may make it more difficult to recycle certain polymers present in ELV, making future delivery of the targets less certain.”

With regard to the total number of ELVs reported in the EU-28 for 2016, would this figure appear considerably different – what of all those vehicles which go under the radar. Are illegal operators starting to make an impact?

To see all recently released data regarding ELVs visit:

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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