Sweden requires free take-back for new cars

Car producers, importers, to be responsible for recovery, recycling, of all end-of-life vehicles

The Swedish government has adopted legislation requiring the country's car manufactures and importers to take back and recycle their cars. While several EU countries already have detailed voluntary take-back schemes in place, Sweden is the first to make such obligations fully mandatory.

From 1 January 1998, Swedish car manufacturers and importers will be obliged to take back all their own cars for scrapping. They may make a reasonable charge for older vehicles where the cost of processing exceeds the value of any materials that can be recovered. However, manufacturers and importers will have to take back free of charge all cars sold after the law comes into force.

Producers will have primary responsibility to establish and coordinate a network of authorised car dismantlers, retailers and wholesalers to ensure that cars returned to any of these places are recovered and recycled. They will also have to supply dismantlers with full details of the materials used in their cars and the appropriate methods for recovering and disposing of them.

The industry has been set targets to recover 85% of material from cars through re-use, recycling or incineration with energy recovery by 2002; rising to 95% by 2015. The targets are slightly tougher than those in the draft EU directive on recovery of end-of-life vehicles published just before the summer (ENDS Daily 9 July). The current Swedish recovery rate is about 75%, which is also the EU average.

According to Karin Kvist, environmental advisor to the Association of Swedish Automobile Manufacturers and Wholesalers, the new law will force producers to keep a close watch on the potential environmental impacts of materials being used in their cars. The requirement is expected to feed back from Swedish car importers to their parent companies worldwide.

The Swedish car industry anticipated take-back legislation some years ago and in 1993 proposed a voluntary producer responsibility initiative, which formed the basis for discussions with the government leading to the new law.

Ms Kvist said the car industry was broadly satisfied with the law but was keen for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to progress quickly with plans to set minimum environmental standards for all dismantlers and to ensure that local authorities enforce them.

Follow Up:
Swedish Environment Ministry, tel: +46 8 405 1000; Association of Swedish Automobile Manufacturers and Wholesalers, tel: +46 8 701 6300.

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