EU scrap car management costs "inflated"

Carmakers' assumptions have resulted in 10-fold overestimate, say Commission sources

The European car industry has grossly overestimated the likely cost of implementing the proposed EU directive on car recycling, according to European Commission sources. The method used by firms to calculate the cost of treating end-of-life vehicles (ELV) is flawed and inflates the estimated cost ten-fold, ENDS Daily was told.

The release of Commission estimates follows last week's move by the European Parliament's rapporteur on the ELV directive, Karl-Heinz Florenz, to propose that recycling costs should be shared between producers, dealers and owners, suggesting the former bear only around 35% of the burden (ENDS Daily 24 November). The Commission insists manufacturers must bear the costs of recycling if the directive is to have its desired effect of changing production practices to increase recyclability and eco-efficiency.

As currently worded, the ELV directive would make manufacturers responsible for recycling new cars at the end of their lifetimes from 2001. The same obligation would be introduced for "existing cars" - those produced before the directive comes into force - in 2006 (ENDS Daily 22 July).

The plan has been vociferously opposed by the car industry, which particularly objects to being given "retroactive" responsibility for recycling cars made before the entry into force of the directive. Based on a recycling cost of euros 153 per car and an estimated 150m cars currently on EU roads, European car industry association Acea says the measure will cost euros 23bn to implement.

However, Commission sources now say the real cost of the directive would be only euros 2.5bn. An official told ENDS Daily today that Acea's analysis overestimated the costs because several assumptions were either wrong or omitted from the calculations, including average recycling costs - put at euros 80 or even less rather than euros 153 - and the number of "existing" cars likely to become waste after 2006.

Cars built in the early and mid-eighties, which are most difficult to recycle, will have largely disappeared by that time, the official added, while design changes to new cars would make them cheaper to recycle. In addition, only around half the cars on the road would have a "negative value".

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; Acea, tel: +32 2 732 5550.

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