Recyclers question new EU scrap vehicle
MADRID - The European recycling industry has voiced serious concern about legislation from the European Union on the processing of end-of-life vehicles (ELV), which is due to come into force in April next year.
At an industry conference in Madrid yesterday, recyclers and members of the scrap sector said that the full implications of the cost of implementing the directive were unclear, as were the effects on the structure of the vehicle recycling market.
As opposed to other voluntary agreements that the metals recycling sector has ratified, the European Commissions ELV directives "...are imposed without regard to the economic consequences," Tony Bird of scrap supplier SimsMetal UK said.
"In the majority of European states there has been no decision as to how this will be funded," he told the Bureau of International Recycling conference ferrous board session.
Each year some 8-10 million tonnes of waste is generated from vehicles discarded in the EU. The directive is designed to manage this, and as of April 2002 carmakers in the EU will be responsible for taking back all ELVs produced after this date. As of 2007, manufacturers will be responsible for all scrap vehicles.
"The capital costs to the European recycling industry, in my view, of taking the industry into full compliance of Annex 1 (of the directive), would range between three and six billion euros ($2.62 and $5.23 billion), depending on the various member states interpretation of the directives requirements," Bird said.
"Before the recycling industry can seriously begin to invest, we must have an idea of the return on our investment, and in the absence of essential financial information, this will not be possible. We must have a level playing field across the EU," he said.
"The ELV legislation is a great threat to the industry, or looks as though it could be a threat," John Crabbe of scrap supplier SimsMetal Australia, who was chairing the BIRs ferrous board session, said.
The BIR has been in consultation with the European Commission and many national governments as well as other members of the market.
"We have lobbied all the way through with the motor manufacturering industry and other interested parties," Bird said. "The directive is nowhere near the directive that was first brought out by the Commission."
Once a vehicle is no longer roadworthy, it is sent for processing at a shredder, which is a plant that will separate the metallic elements from the non-metallic elements and then recover any recycleable parts. In Europe there are 242 shredding plants, according to the BIR.
Prior to shredding a vehicle must be de-polluted of all fluids and materials classed as hazardous by the EU. In some member states this involves merely removing all fluids and the batteries, while in others it includes the removal of all small motors and heavy metals.
DISTRIBUTION OF COST UNCERTAIN
The total cost of recycling a vehicle under the directive is not yet certain, nor is the manner in which the cost will be distributed among car makers, recyclers, or consumers.
"De-pollution will be very, very costly. This frightens the carmakers, who are a bit upst about the prospect of their future budgets," said Jean Burnod of French recycler CFF Recycling.
Burnod said that some car manufacturers had already begun to incorporate allowances in their budgets for ELV recovery, but it seemed unlikely that any would be lured into the recycling of ELVs themselves.
One way of removing the burden of cost from the car manufacturers and the recyclers would be to hold regional tenders for the recycling of ELVs among the shredding plants, Burnod said.
"We think this is one of the options open and the problem of the cost will be offset by the increased competition between the shredders," he said.
David Hulse of the British Metals Foundation said a more integrated approach would be preferable, in order to keep recycling costs low and thereby retain the business provided by the car manufacturers.
"Were looking at a perfect opportunity to help the manufacturers fulfill their obligations," Hulse said.
"If the cost got too high, that would be a trigger for the carmakers to go into business on their own," he said.
Story by Amanda Cooper
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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