Austria's voluntary scrap car takeback scheme is not working, according to a recent study by the national labour organisation, the Arbeiterkammer (AK). The AK, an official body which represents the interests of Austrian employees, claims that of the 180,000 cars which reach the end of their working lives each year in Austria, the fate of 80,000 is unclear. The current voluntary system was agreed by the government and the car manufacturers in 1992. The AK says its study shows the agreement is not fulfilling its stated aims of providing comprehensive data and ensuring high environmental standards for the disposal of scrap cars. It claims that although 51,000 cars are returned each year to traders, official documentation exists for only 21,000. The organisation also claims that cars are being sent to shredding plants without being treated to remove hazardous components such as heavy metals. Most shredders do not have the equipment or experience necessary to treat the cars, and subsequently up to 30,000 ton of untreated shredded car waste ends up on landfills each year, the AK says. The AK describes the untreated old cars as "environment bombs," and claims they "pose a real threat". Austria is planning to draw up national legislation on end of life vehicles within the next year, in keeping with the forthcoming EU directive on the issue, but the AK warns that this is unlikely to go far enough to address the problem (ENDS Daily 9 July 1997).
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