Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Adam Hewitt

RECOVAS: Influencing the design of products for reuse and recycling

Alexander Thompson, Innovation Project Manager, EMR discusses RECOVAS, the project that looks to create a new circular end-of-life supply chain for the electric vehicle industry, and its influence on the design of products for reuse and recycling.

RECOVAS: Influencing the design of products for reuse and recycling f

As businesses face up to the challenge of making their operations more sustainable, it is becoming increasingly important for different industries to collaborate.

For recyclers such as EMR, this means working more closely than ever with product manufacturers, alongside other supply chain partners, to ensure that everything from cars to building materials are designed with end-of-life recycling or re-use in mind.

The good news is that these partnerships will create the next generation of opportunities, as businesses race towards their own net-zero targets in the years ahead. For EMR this means removing all carbon emissions from our value chain by 2040.

More challenging, however, is the fact many manufacturers have understandably developed an ingrained culture that fiercely protects intellectual property and the product innovations which help them stay ahead of the market.

Nowhere is this more the case than in the automotive industry. However, this is an area that one of EMR’s exciting collaborative initiatives is taking place.

RECOVAS, a ground-breaking project which is part-funded by the Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, looks to create a new circular end-of-life supply chain for the electric vehicle industry. The partnership brings together Bentley Motors, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, alongside the University of Warwick, the Health and Safety Executive, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, Autocraft and Connected Energy.

RECOVAS is creating a path for the re-manufacturing, re-use or recycling of the resource-rich batteries which are powering the transition to electric vehicles.

And, what began as a research project has now become a reality. EMR recently signed a commercial agreement with BMW to process the carmaker’s warranty failures and production prototype scrap batteries.

The benefits of working closely with leading car manufacturers extends beyond the scope of this single project, however. By building relationships between their design teams and EMR’s engineers, we have begun to see more proactive discussions about how different parts of the supply chain can work together more effectively.

One example is the way in which glues are used in many battery packs to hold components together. While glues have been chosen for good engineering reasons, related to improving reliability and resistance to vibration, these design choices can make it significantly harder, and more expensive, for recyclers to separate recyclable materials at the vehicle’s end of life.   

Thanks to our collaboration on projects such as RECOVAS, EMR is starting to play a bigger role in the development of new design guidelines which will make end-of-life processing more efficient. 

Yet, realistically, the cars which are in prototype stage now won’t reach end-of-life for at least 15 years, making this a long-term project.

Fortunately, by collaborating more closely, there are also ‘quick wins’ that will make a big difference to the recycling of vehicles far sooner. This includes providing access for recyclers to the sophisticated on-board computer systems that control the modern electric vehicle batteries, records their behaviour and enables drivers, and recyclers, to communicate with them. These systems currently require very complex software to operate, but EMR is working with manufacturers to enable external parties gain access to these computers to allow more efficient re-use and recycling at end of life.

These tangible changes to the UK’s vehicle supply chain are going to play a vital role in helping the automotive industry become more sustainable and ensure that consumers have the confidence that the next car they drive really does create a more positive environmental impact.

This work highlights the profound benefits that can arise when EMR works closely with manufacturers and suppliers to drive innovation and sustainable change.

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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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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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