EU scrap car law seen stimulating UK market
LONDON - New EU laws on the recycling of used cars will stimulate investment in metals recycling in the UK, encourage the recovery of more materials and force unscrupulous operators out of the industry.
Recyclers who handle most of the two million cars scrapped in the UK each year did not see the European Unions end-of-life vehicle (ELV) directive prompting auto makers to move into their industry.
"We can do it, it just needs investment for further recycling of plastics, rubbber and glass...the industry doesnt do it now because no one wants to buy it," Andrew Mason of British recycler Mayer Parry told Reuters.
The EU reached final agreement on Wednesday on new legislation covering scrap vehicles, which generate around nine million tonnes of waste a year.
The law, likely to come into force later in the year, means car makers will cover most of the cost of taking back all cars sold after January 1, 2001 when they reach the end of their lives and are scrapped.
The law will force car makers to recycle or re-use 80 percent of car weight from 2006, rising to 85 percent by 2015. Around 75 percent of material is already recycled or recovered.
About 160 million cars are currently on Europes roads, and from 2007 manufacturers will have to take back without charge any scrap car, regardless of when it was built.
The actual scrapping of vehicles may be carried out by processors authorised to issue certificates of destruction to the last holder or owner of any vehicle they handle.
ACCORD - the automotive consortium on recycling and disposal - welcomed this system, adding that unscrupulous operators were gaining a competitive edge over those that complied with the rules. Rick Wilcox of the British Metals Federation, which represents the UKs ferrous scrap recyclers, said closer ties would have to be forged between manufacturers, shredders and scrap recyclers.
Tony Bird, chairman of the European Recycling Federations ELV committee, told Reuters his body would be lobbying governments to come up with a uniform European system for collection and charging.
"Nobody understands how it will evolve and work...We
are trying to get a standard norm because we want to reduce the costs to manufacturers," Bird said. But while most metal from cars was recycled because of its value, other materials like plastics and glass were struggling because there were no end markets.
"Markets for glass for recycling and tyres for remoulding have virtually disappeared," ACCORD said in a recent report. So much recycled glass was available that some types were uneconomic to remove.
John Hesketh of Britains Motor Vehicle Dismantlers Association said he planned to give the government a proposal on how a UK collection and recycling scheme could work.
He saw car owners bearing part of any new tax created to finance collection and treatment. Manufacturers would pick up the rest of the estimated 300 million pounds a year bill. Bird said, "We believe that in the same way the car makers have producer responsibility, this should go further down the line so that plastics and rubber makers help develop markets for their products."
Around 95 percent of steel was recovered from scrap cars in the UK in 1998, compared with 14.7 percent of rubber.
David Hulse, technical director of the UKs Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said car makers would prefer to build on the existing infrastructure rather than throw it all away.
"But it may necessitate some degree of rationalisation," Hulse said. A Ford spokesman told Reuters that the company was looking at all options and did not rule out entering the recycling industry.
Mayer Parrys Mason said his firm - which is part of European Metal Recycling, the largest of the UKs 40 shredders with a 50 percent market share - was making a one million pound investment to recycle foam from cars with Ford.
"We already have a project running with Ford for plastic...within six months to a year we will also be recovering foam," Mason said.
Mason said Ford had asked Dow and Johnson Controls to come up with uses for recycled foam.
Story by Camila Reed
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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