Since ELVES, ELV Environmental Services CLG, received government approval to operate in 2017, a major focus for Ireland’s End-of-Life Vehicle compliance scheme has been improving low public awareness about the correct way to recycle cars and small vans.
Early internet searches revealed plenty of non-permit holding ‘cash-for-cars’ type adverts which were easily visible to the public alongside genuine advertisements for ATFs. Crucially, ELVES also heard directly from its ATF network that customers just weren’t asking for a CoD. This reality was borne out in ELVES’ first public survey in 2016. It revealed that only 79 respondents out of more than 1000 could correctly describe the important steps an owner needs to take to scrap their vehicle responsibly.
Knowing that public awareness was low, as well as having quite a broad target audience to reach, ELVES got to work on communicating, using online, radio, print, social media and events to spread the word that there was a right and a wrong way to scrap a vehicle. One way ended the owner’s responsibility for the car, saving them considerable stress and potential fines, and the other, the opposite.
The key messages that ELVES repeatedly communicates to the public are clear; only deal with an Authorised Treatment Facility and always get a Certificate of Destruction (CoD).
Advertising directs the public to ELVES.ie, where people can find and contact their nearest ELVES ATF to arrange the scrapping of their vehicle. The ELVES website also provides information on which ATFs offer a collection service and whether or not they sell second-hand parts. The site provides the public with the Hows and Whys of ELV recycling, as well as information on the initiatives and projects undertaken by ELVES to improve ELV recycling in Ireland.
The impact of this ongoing education and awareness campaign has been evident through the year-on-year increases in public interaction with the scheme via email, social media, and the website.
Elena Wrelton, Environmental Compliance Manager at ELVES said:
“Searches for ATFs on ELVES.ie increased more than 170% between 2018 and 2020. Now, with a presence on all major social media platforms, we also use competitions, automotive trivia, and innovative car recycling videos to get the message of responsible vehicle recycling across. Competitions are a regular feature, designed to create engagement, further reach and get the public answering questions about car recycling – a recent ‘Name an ELVES ATF Near You Competition’ encouraged entrants to visit ELVES.ie, familiarising them with their local ATF before they might ever need one.”
Videos have also proved a useful education and engagement tool; in 2019, ELVES partnered with the talented staff and students at Limerick School of Art & Design LIT to produce an animation titled ‘How to Scrap your Car with ELVES’. The student competition resulted in three shortlisted videos and one overall winner all of which can be viewed on the ELVES Ireland YouTube Channel.
“Another promotion tool that helps us stand out is Hughie the Heinkel; our Irish-made 1961 mascot car. A video of Hughie racing around Mondello racetrack has clocked up over 100,000 views on Facebook. He is also a hit at events helping to get conversations started around vehicle recycling no matter where we are. This July, Hughie will be appearing at the Forever Young Music Festival where the line-up includes some of the best hitmakers of the 80s,” said Ms Wrelton.
ELVES’ intensive radio campaigns have focused on regional and local stations and, according to 2021 survey responses, are the most common way through which people become aware of ELVES.
The impact of the awareness campaigns is probably best seen in the results of ELVES’ most recent Red C Survey in 2021. Compared to the 2016 survey, this survey revealed a 400% increase of key terms used in ELVES advertising appearing in survey responses. Terms such as ATF, Authorised Treatment Facility and Permitted Scrapyard feature much more commonly in the latest survey responses, as well as the mention of five specific ATFs, all of which are in the ELVES Network.
“The important distinction which ELVES highlights between ATFs and illegal breakers also seems to be getting across. We were really happy that a majority of 56% of people surveyed chose ‘Ending your responsibility for the vehicle’ over ‘Scrap price offered’ (chosen by 32%) as the most important factor when scrapping a car. The survey also revealed a 127% increase in respondents who could correctly describe the process involved in scrapping a vehicle compared to the previous survey. These results are very positive for car recycling in Ireland and bad news for illegal operators,” added Elena Wrelton.
From the 2016 survey, ELVES learned that for the respondents, Stopping Motor Tax reminders was one of the most important factors when scrapping a vehicle. To this end, a particularly effective ELVES awareness project is their ongoing collaboration with the Department of Transport, in which an explainer leaflet on vehicle scrapping is included with motor tax renewal reminders. Since it began in 2018, this project has directly reached hundreds of thousands of Irish motorists; those most likely to be considering scrapping a car.
ELVES ‘No Tanks’ Campaign which launched last year, highlights to the public the importance of correctly disposing of all pressurised gas tanks and canisters as well as the hazards of leaving them in scrap vehicles. ELVES created several versions of the No Tanks images for distribution to ATFs as well as all to Local Authorities and the government’s MyWaste communications channels.
Improving awareness about the right way to scrap a vehicle, using an ATF and getting a CoD, is an important factor in helping Ireland meet the reuse, recycling, and recovery targets for ELVs. In 2018, less than one year after ELVES was first granted approval to operate, Ireland met both the 85% reuse and recycling and the overall 95% reuse and recovery ELV targets for the first time. This success was repeated in 2019 and 2020, the most recent year for which national results are available.
ELVES is committed to maintaining and building on this success. Key to this is a well-informed public schooled in how to follow the correct car scrapping process, thereby helping to ensure that cars are recycled in an environmentally friendly way and supporting the essential services provided by legitimate, permitted ATFs.
Find out more about ELVES at www.elves.ie