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


Driving change: A circular economy for automotive plastic

Oakdene Hollins recently published a report with focus on a circular economy for automotive plastic.


Driving change: A circular economy for automotive plastic f

Plastic is a major component in modern cars. When it comes to the disposal of end-of-life vehicles (ELVs), capturing plastic for reuse or recycling poses a clear challenge for the automotive industry. 

The ELV Directive is designed to promote materials reuse and recycling, but it uses weight-based recovery targets which have so far not required a focus on plastics for compliance. The study notes that the overall mass of plastic used per new vehicle is increasing – with predictions of up to 17% more plastic per vehicle by 2030.  

The supply challenge of plastic recyclate is coupled with low levels of recycling for automotive plastics from ELVs, with most currently landfilled.  The poor rates of automotive plastic recovery come from the economic unviability of removing and recovering most plastics from current end of life vehicles, exacerbated by limited infrastructure to recycle the plastics and poor market demand for the resulting secondary raw materials.  

There is therefore a case for change which is outlined in this study. Interventions to support the expansion of automotive recycling into opportunities for utilizing automotive plastics for ELVs either within the sector, or elsewhere could be made through developments in infrastructure and investment in new technologies. 

The analysis provides an in-depth review of vehicle plastic use and plastic waste, and a comprehensive assessment of end markets for automotive plastic recyclates. It focuses on the three major polymers used in vehicles: Polypropylene (PP), Polyurethane (PU), and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).

Aspirations of both increasing recycled plastic content within vehicles, and in finding adequate markets to stimulate automotive plastic recovery have technical, economic and regulatory challenges.  To support the development of a more circular economy for automotive plastics, this study concludes with the following recommendations:

  • Ensure there is clarity around the automotive industries position on the recycling of automotive plastics – or not.  Clear signals will support the industry in moving collectively to both increasing recycled content within vehicles and increasing plastics recycling and will challenge the reliance on landfill and incineration for ELV plastics
  • Enhance the current policy framework to support plastic recovery and recycling for automotive.  This would provide the stimuli needed for engagement at scale by OEMs, and also provide confidence for the SMEs and their investors working in ELV vehicle businesses to invest in the R&D and infrastructure needed to reach both recycled content and recycling targets
  • Establish stakeholder driven organisation(s) to focus and drive increased automotive plastic recycling as focused and collective action can improve success when dealing with challenging waste
  • Innovate to improve sorting and segregation to enable appropriate feedstocks for recycling.  Disassembly enables cleaner streams of plastic to be recovered but is currently not economic, whilst recovery of plastic from automotive shredder residue (ASR) is technically complex.

Download the full report here 


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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. 

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.



9th of May 2024

British Motor Museum, Warwickshire

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