EU car firms oppose end-of-life vehicle plan

Trade association says proposed directive will harm environment, distort market

The proposed EU law on the management of old cars will "create negative environmental effects and distort the market," the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (Acea) said on Friday.

In a strong attack on key features of the draft directive, Acea opposes specific recycling targets, as proposed by the European Commission, and reimbursement of owners at the point of disposal if their cars have negative economic value.

The end-of-life vehicles directive was agreed by the Commission on 9 July after months of internal wrangling over whether to ban PVC and heavy metals (ENDS Daily 9 July). It proposes common EU rules aiming at increasing car recyclability and levels of recovery and recycling of old cars. The overall aim is to reduce the proportion of car waste that is landfilled from around 25% now to 15% in 2005 and 5% in 2015.

The main clause that has raised the car industry's ire is a requirement for vehicle dealers "acting on behalf of the producer" to reimburse owners of end-of-life vehicles for any costs incurred "as a result of the vehicle having a negative market value". According to Acea, this is "an unnecessary and direct interference in the market with enormous potential consequences".

"Totally independent downstream industries," including shredders, dismantlers, material separators and recyclers "make their living from end-of-life vehicles," Acea says. "Under the proposal, these industries would be encouraged to increase their costs and reduce their efficiency."

Acea's second bugbear is the Commission's proposal to set separate targets for material recycling within overall recovery targets. Whereas the draft directive explicitly directs member states to ensure that "preference is given to recycling" over incineration, Acea says that "there should be no constraints on how the overall [recovery] targets are achieved".

According to the association, availability and distance of industrial infrastructure for recycling is a "critical consideration," and higher or lower proportions of waste going to incineration may be appropriate in particular areas. Acea also maintains that the Commission's emphasis on recycling could lead to environmental disbenefits. The directive will put pressure on the car industry to use more metal in cars, it says, because metals are easily recyclable. However, they are also heavier than most alternative materials, which could impede efforts to reduce fuel consumption.

Follow Up:
Acea, tel: +32 2 732 5550.

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