EU Parliament "to spread car recycling costs"

Major political groups close to agreement on watering down producer responsibility

An agreement by EU governments that the car industry should face full producer responsibility for the cost of recycling scrap cars is hanging in the balance with two influential MEPs calling for the clause to be diluted when the end-of-life vehicles directive is debated in the European Parliament next week.

Karl-Heinz Florenz of the centre-right EPP bloc and parliament's rapporteur on the directive, will propose replacing ministers' agreement that car makers should "pay all or a significant part" of the costs of recycling old cars with a clause saying they should pay half of this amount. Drafted yesterday, Mr Florenz's amendment says that "producers and holders and/or owners [should] equally meet the costs" of establishing a free take-back system for final car owners.

Mr Florenz previously proposed an even greater dilution of producer responsibility under a system that would make all "economic operators" liable for scrap car recycling costs, but this idea was rejected by the Parliament's environment committee (ENDS Daily 12 January).

Meanwhile, the rapporteur's "shadow" in the parliament's other main political party is to make his own bid to dilute the producer responsibility clause, having failed to agree a joint amendment with Mr Florenz. Socialist MEP Bernd Lange is proposing that there should be full producer responsibility for cars built from 2002 but that scrapping of cars type approved before then should be funded through a levy on new car purchases. As with Mr Florenz's amendment, this would be a less radical change than that Mr Lange proposed unsuccessfully at the latest environment committee meeting, under which member states would be given freedom to decide how to fund free take-back.

During their talks, the MEPs did agree, however, on a joint amendment that would alter requirements for the recovery and recycling of cars. Environmental coalition EEB complained today the agreement would "promote the incineration of plastics over a long transition period instead of requiring material recycling." If adopted, the group said, the plan, along with agreements to grant "extensive derogations" from bans on lead and cadmium in car manufacture, would "show the parliament as the most conservative, pro-industry" of the EU's three main legislative institutions.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111; EEB, tel: +32 2 289 1090.

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