Are vehicle dismantlers getting the full value out of their ELVs? Evald Ropulcas, owner at Cable Cycle, a wire loom recovery company based in the UK, and with operations in Germany and Spain, talked to ATF Professional about what their company does and how recyclers can increase their profits by finding more and extracting more wire loom from the ELVs in their yard whilst being environmentally aware.
Evald, can you introduce how you came to be involved in recycling wire loom and why you specialise in the recovery of copper from vehicles alone?
7 years ago, I completely overhauled my career – from oil refining to the automobile recycling industry. I started with catalytic converter and lead-acid battery recycling, within three years, cable and wire loom recycling became my main activity.
In the beginning, it was purely a learning process as only a handful of vehicle dismantlers were removing car looms from shells, but a rapid increase in competition in car recycling forced recyclers to look for additional income channels, which is how I came to establish Cable Cycle.
Loom might not be described as one of the main components or have any high value when dismantling a vehicle. Do you think this is a fair comment, or do you think it is a missed opportunity by not taking the wiring out of a vehicle?
Each company has its own business understanding, and therefore, there are different approaches to recycling looms:
- There are those who recycle wire loom and therefore gain more value from a single car.
- There are car breakers who remove some of it, such as easily accessible pieces.
- Another approach is to remove looms only at times when fewer vehicles come in for dismantling
- And there are those who do not remove looms at all
In my opinion, and mathematical calculations prove this as well, the company that sells looms for recycling will always have a financial advantage over a company that leaves loom in car shells. In some cases, it can be a significant amount per year. Also, it must be considered that car breaking operations with the know-how of the wire loom removal process will be at a huge advantage, especially as we see more electric vehicles arriving in our yards for dismantling.
In general, how much cable is in an average vehicle, and what would the current value be?
The least amount of cable which is easily accessible in the engine bay, trunk and under carpets will be a few kilograms, but if one uses equipment, such as Powerhand or similar, the extracted amount will be up to 15 kg. It must be stated that electric vehicles have approximately 80 KG of wire loom inside, thus cable extraction will become compulsory in the near future to gain maximum profit.
Unless extracting the cable using equipment similar to the VRS from Powerhand, it could be said that removing wiring manually is time-consuming and not cost-effective with the yield, be it relatively small. How would you reply to this? And as someone who specialises specifically in recycling copper from vehicles, do you think dismantlers are overlooking methods and missing out on how to get more wire into their bins for you to collect?
Everyone in the industry understands that car shell prices and wire loom prices can differ up to 20 times. Therefore, there is no logic to sell valuable metal at scrap metal prices. It is just a matter of how efficiently your yard is organised to get the most out of your scrap vehicles. Even a small dismantler, without any specific equipment, can still bring in several thousands of pounds / Euros a year just by removing easily accessible car looms. Calculations, if investment for special machinery is viable or not, is straight forward.
We are ready to share our experience and speak to anyone who is interested in making more out of their ELVs. As I mentioned earlier, this is our daily work, we help our customers understand where they can squeeze additional cash.
Continuing on the volume of wire that dismantlers could be harvesting, do you have limits on what you collect, and what do you require from the customer?
There is no amount too small or too big for us – 100 KG or 100 tonnes. We work with vehicle recycling operations and scrap metal dealers of all sizes. – We are always ready to receive your enquiries, and it must be stated that all logistical challenges and required paperwork is sorted by us so the customer’s only worry is to make access for the lorry into their yard.
Finally, there is the apparent financial gain from extracting wiring from vehicles. However, do you think there is an environmental aspect to collecting it as well? Do you believe that as much as educating dismantlers on the amount of they may be missing out on, do you like to think that you are also helping them with the ecological impact they will be making as well?
I see our role as two-fold, firstly, it is to help educate vehicle recyclers to gain the maximum value when dismantling a vehicle, and I am always more than happy to discuss and provide the best practice to do this whatever their operation size. Secondly, I feel we have a responsibility to recycle vehicles, not only to be in line with the EU recycling targets but in helping to reduce the environmental impact by being eco-conscience.