Artemis Hatzi-Hull, Directorate-General Environment for the European Commission on the purpose and benefits of the ELV Directive
Auto Recycling World recently interviewed Artemis Hatzi-Hull, Directorate-General Environment for the European Commission to find out the purpose and benefits of the ELV Directive and why it is important for those in the industry to give their feedback on the upcoming Directive.
Can you provide some background about yourself? Have you always been involved in auto recycling, and how did it come about becoming the policy officer for the European ELV directive?
I am a lawyer by training. I studied law in Greece, France, Belgium and the United States. I have worked in law firms in Greece, the US and Belgium before joining the European Commission in 1997. My legal work was focused in the areas of business transactions and European law.
I wrote my thesis for my LL.M in the US on environmental liability for damage caused to the environment by hazardous waste and its impact, mainly financial responsibility for the clean-up on the new owner from wrongdoings of the previous owner(s). This was my introduction to environmental law and its impact on the business as I thought it was very interesting and would become increasingly important in the future.
In 2006, I had the opportunity to move from Directorate-General Research, where I was working as a legal advisor for industrial research grants, to DG Environment and the waste streams legislation (end-of-life vehicles, batteries, packaging …). I chose to become the policy officer for the ELV file as I find it captivating as well as the upcoming changes in the cars and consequent challenges for the regulator. I have also learned a lot by talking to the dismantlers/recyclers/OEMs, by visiting plants, by participating in studies and evaluations concerning the ELV legislation.
For those who may not know, and those that need a reminder, can you give a brief background about the ELV directive itself and what it sets out to achieve?
The European Directive on end-of-life vehicles (the ELV Directive) was adopted in 2000 with the aim to prevent waste from vehicles, promote reuse, recycling and recovery of ELVs and their components and improve the environmental performance of all economic operators involved in the life cycle of vehicles, especially those involved in the treatment of end-of-life vehicles.
The Directive establishes minimum requirements for the waste management of ELVs and reuse/recycling/recovery targets. It also includes harmonised minimum requirements for the design of the vehicles and treatment of the ELVs. For the design, the Directive requires the Member States to encourage car manufacturers to increase the amount of recovered material used and to promote recycling and reuse. It also contains provisions to exclude certain toxic materials from new cars.
Much of the Directive relates to the collection and treatment of ELVs. The Directive was the driver for setting up the collection schemes of ELVs in the Member States ensuring that authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) are available within their territory and that ELVs are transferred to these ATFs without any costs for the last owner.
The owner receives a certificate of destruction to de-register its vehicle and stop paying any taxes related to the vehicle registration. Member States have to report the number of ELVs treated. Car manufacturers are obliged to provide information on materials in their products to facilitate removal and reuse/recovery.
The ELV Directive is seen as a good example of a circular economy. It sets high targets for the re-use and recycling (85%) and the reuse and recovery (95%) of parts and materials from ELVs and manufacturers provide information on components and materials used in vehicles to facilitate their identification for reuse and recovery. However, there is room for improvement.
At the moment, a review of the directive is underway. Why is this happening? What stage is the review at? And could you mention what we might expect to see when concluded?
When the Directive was adopted in 2000, it was the first waste legislation to introduce provisions for producers’ responsibility and to set clear objectives for the challenges of the time. Today, twenty years later, the challenges are different, the design, the technologies and the materials have changed, and the Directive needs to be adapted accordingly.
In 2018, during the review of the Waste Framework Directive, the European Parliament and the Council (EU Member States) asked the Commission to review the ELV Directive looking in particular into the problems of the “missing ELVs”, i.e. ELVs that are deregistered but never treated in ATFs and into the feasibility of setting targets for specific materials used in cars.
As a result, in 2019, the Commission launched the evaluation of the ELV Directive, which is looking backwards: how the ELV Directive performed, what are its achievements and what are the remaining and new challenges. The evaluation has been finalised, and it will now be followed by an Impact Assessment, which is looking forward and into the changes needed so that the Directive will perform better.
The Commission will look into the scope of the Directive (the Directive only covers small passenger cars, small vans and lorries), the design of the vehicles with an emphasis on waste reduction (e.g. materials free of hazardous chemicals, requirements for recycled content and design that facilitates repair, remanufacturing, reuse, recycling), improved reporting (e.g. separate targets for reuse and recycling, reporting per material), measures to address the “missing ELVs”, better enforcement etc.
At the end of this exercise, the Commission will present its proposal for the revision for the ELV Directive to the co-legislator: the European Parliament and the Council probably towards 2022. All this process can be followed on the Commission’s website.
As someone who has helped to change the process of auto recycling, what changes in attitude have you seen in the industry in the time you have been involved? What have you experienced with regards to the changes the way the industry is perceived and the approach that auto recyclers have made to their organisations?
Changes are never easy and not always welcome by the industry. However, because of the Directive, the European car industry can claim today that they have removed almost all hazardous substances used in cars. Cadmium and mercury have been phased out, and there is only one remaining exemption for the use of hexavalent chromium and a few exemptions for lead, which is 4% compared to the percentage used twenty years ago and in applications where its use is unavoidable. There is a well established ELV collection system that delivers ELVs to the ATFs and instructions for their dismantling by the OEMs in all the EU and will be further improved. It is also worth mentioning that the great majority of Member States have achieved the high reuse/recycling/recovery targets contributing to the circular economy.
Returning to the directive, how do you think it has helped to improve the auto recycling industry? What problems existed which have now become less prevalent?
I think that the collection of ELVs contributed to collect all abandoned ELVs and to make sure that a waste car can be deregistered upon presentation of a certificate of destruction received by an Authorised Treatment Facility. The Directive was also the driver behind the International Dismantling Information System (IDIS), which provides dismantling information to recyclers. The Directive also provides that the manufacturers use component and material coding standards to identify those components and materials that are suitable for reuse and recovery.
Evidently, with the change in the technologies such as the electrification, materials and components, increased use of electronics and plastics, adjustments are needed to make sure that the systems already in place will improve, e.g. better information will be provided in IDIS and training for EVs to be provided by the OEMs.
On the same theme, as the industry is evolving and improving, what challenges do you think lie ahead, and how can those involved prepare to counter them?
The new technologies present new challenges. As an example, most car manufacturers turn towards the EVs and some European governments have adopted incentives to facilitate the change of their cars. However, the batteries used in the EVs require special knowledge and training to treat them, so recyclers need to adapt and work closer with the battery recyclers and the OEMs. Today, the information on how the car is working is computerised, more electronics are used, more plastics are used and some, such as carbon fibre, may have difficulties in recycling. Design of cars, materials used, the information provided to recyclers, but also measures to address the problem of the “missing ELVs” and, therefore, missing resources will be studied.
I know a lot of consultation takes place when it comes to creating the legislation around the directive. What would you say to those who may be against such legislation and what would you say to encourage more individuals and companies to get involved with the consultation process itself?
Legislation safeguards not only the environment but also the wellbeing of the people and the businesses. A revised ELV Directive will address all challenges that are now being voiced by the recycling industry: design, information to enable better use of the parts, getting more ELVs by stopping the illegal dismantling, better dismantling which guarantees better quality recyclates that need to be re-integrated in the new cars etc.
The Commission invites everybody in the industry to share their experience, their knowledge, their suggestions etc. These are very valuable inputs that will help the Commission to assess the industry’s concerns, build upon their experience and draft legislation that will help the environment and the industry. The Commission has very transparent procedures during the review and calls upon every citizen and company to have their say.
Although the directive is European based, it is something that creates much interest globally? Some countries have no such legislation, what would you say are the advantages that a directive can bring to vehicle recyclers environmentally and economically to those who do not have a directive to work within?
The ELV Directive is seen as a successful piece of legislation and is followed and even copied by many countries in the world. Reuse, remanufacturing, recycling and recovery are done in an environmentally sound manner that is good for the environment but also brings economic benefits to the recyclers as it ensures ELVs are delivered to them as well as information on how to dismantle them and reuse their parts. Countries outside the EU have copied parts of the ELV Directive and adapted them to their economies and infrastructure.
If you would like to provide feedback on the upcoming ELV Directive, please go to www.ec.europa.eu