20 August 2015 Published in Special topics Written by 


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You work on a daily basis with EU Directive 2000/53/EG regarding the handling of end-of-life vehicles, since it is the basis of IMDS. However, what exactly does it imply and how is the directive implemented in the individual member states? We will clarify this question and other questions in this contribution. Furthermore, we will discuss one planned amendment to Annex II.

What is a Directive?
At the outset, it is important to know that EU Directives set a target which is supposed to be achieved within a time limit. However, the member countries have some flexibility in terms of how they implement the directive. In Germany, for instance, a formal law or an ordinance is necessary, even if merely by reference to the EU Directive or by declaring its text as valid. If, however, a directive is not implemented on time or not properly implemented, the EU Commission is entitled to bring action against the country in the European Court of Justice.

Background of EU Directive 2000/53/EC
Every year, the EU generates approx. 8 to 9 m. t. of waste from end-of-life vehicles, which must be disposed in an environmentally friendly manner. To limit the production of vehicle waste and harmonise the use of end-of-life vehicles across Europe, the EU therefore issued the 2000/53/EC "End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive" on 18 September 2000 as the legal basis. The requirements for re-using, re-cycling and re-covery of end-of-life vehicles and their components were laid down in this directive. European vehicle manufacturers must now manufacture recyclable vehicles and the EU member states are obliged to install take-back systems for end-of-life vehicles.

In accordance with the waste hierarchy – which is specified in the EU Framework Directive on Waste – EU waste legislation and policy shall enforce the following measures:

  • Prevention (for example through a ban or restriction on the use of hazardous materials to the environment)
  • Reuse (components are reused for the same purpose at another place)
  • Increased recycling (waste products are converted into secondary raw materials for new products)
  • Recovery (for instance, recovery of energy from combustion)
  • Disposal

Content of the EU Directive
The EU Directive covers passenger vehicles (with max. 9 seats) and vehicles used for the carriage of goods up to 3.5 t. as well as three-wheeled motor vehicles. These vehicles must be designed and constructed in such a way that maximum possible materials can be reused or recycled. The aim of the directive is to increase the reuse and recovery rate by setting clear targets in terms of volumes since 2015, the reuse rate lies at 95% of the average vehicle weight (its was 85% in 2006), while the recycling or recovery rate lies at 85%. That is also the reason why only restricted use of hazardous materials such as mercury, chromium, cadmium and lead is allowed. The criteria for exceptions have been regulated in Annex II. However, these criteria have already been modified and made strict several times and this trend will continue in future as well.

The disposal of vehicles is sought to be simplified by providing information about the individual components and materials. The EU Commission specifies identification and marking standards for that, which the manufacturers must conform to. Within six months from placing a new model on the market, these manufacturers are obliged to prepare and disclose information about its deconstruction and removal as part of their product responsibility. Moreover, they must take back the old vehicles free of charge.

The member states shall ensure that these requirements are met and shall submit a report to the EU Commission every three years.

Original text of the directive including Annex I and Annex II

Current amendments
A few amendments to the directive, particularly those related to the exceptions in Annex II, have already been enacted in the past few years, with the last one having been enacted in 2013. Currently, the following exceptions from Annex II are under review:

  • 2c (allows aluminium with a lead share of up to 0.4%)
  • 3 (allows copper alloys with up to 4% lead content)
  • 5 (allows the use of lead and lead compounds in batteries)

The institute responsible for the test is Öko-Institut, which interviewed the concerned branches of industry and pressure groups from September to December 2014. Various working groups of the industrial associations ACEA, JAMA, KAMA, CLEPA and EAA participated in the survey. In their final reports, they arrived at the conclusion that the concerned exceptions must remain in force and recommended that they be reviewed only after eight years. Other associations and institutions too answered and submitted their questionnaires. Öko-Institut has started to evaluate the results and is currently clarifying further questions with the pressure groups. Subsequently, it will submit a recommendation to the EU Commission. This recommendation will also be published on the News Page of Öko-Institut.
Implementation in the EU member states
According to the EU Commission report of 2009, 19 member states have achieved the reuse/recycling target of 80% for 2006 and merely 13 have achieved the reuse/recovery target of 85%. (Source: Report of the Commission COM/2009/0635 final) There is currently no information regarding target achievement in 2015.

The report from 2009 also reveals problems encountered during implementation: Thus, the EU member states have different definitions for the time after which an end-of-life vehicle is considered as waste. Moreover, many vehicles are legally or even illegally shipped outside the EU in order to lower or save on the costs of their disposal. Even where recycling is considered, there are differences between the member states. Thus, in some countries (example: Austria, Estonia) glass is removed and recycled before shredding, whereas in countries like Germany and Sweden this is done only partially and in other countries it is not done (Finland, Great Britain). (Source: Study conducted by the Federal Environment Agency for the EU Parliament, October 2010)

In Germany, the used cars ordinance had already entered into force on 4th July 1997 (official title: Ordinance on the Surrender and Environmentally Compatible Disposal of Used Cars). On 21 June 2002, this was harmonised with the EU directive and renamed as the End-Of-Life Vehicle Ordinance (official title: Ordinance on the Surrender, Take-Back and Environmentally Compatible Disposal of End-Of-Life Vehicles). The deconstruction, removal and recycling within the country may only be carried out by companies certified to do so in accordance with the end-of-life vehicle ordinance. Currently, there are approx. 1,200 recycling companies as well as barely 50 shredder facilities that ensure environmentally sound recycling and disposal.

Nonetheless, the stipulated rates have continuously been maintained so far in Germany; in the year 2010, they were even exceeded due to the scrapping incentive ("Abwrackprämie") offered by the German government. The annual reports on the end-of-life vehicle recycling rates are published by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. Out of the de-registered vehicles that are affected by the directive in Germany, only approx 40% are finally disposed of and only 17% of them are recycled. The rest are either exported as second-hand cars or the failure to surrender them for other reasons (theft, private sale, etc.) cannot be statistically accounted for. (Source: Federal Environment Agency)

To cite one example from the Netherlands: Here, various industrial associations had already come together in the beginning of the 1990's to form the foundation Auto en Recycling (SAR) and had introduced a national system for collection and recycling of end-of-life vehicles. The entity responsible for the organisation and logistical administration of recycling is Auto Recycling Netherland BV (ARN). The system is based on a voluntary agreement between the manufacturers and commercial importers of vehicles. With every purchase of a new car, a contribution is paid to cover the costs of the deconstruction of scrap cars and the recycling of the collected materials including transport. Out of that, the roughly 270 recycling companies that deconstruct 90% of all the end-of-life vehicles in the Netherlands receive a disposal bonus for components that they are unable to sell after the deconstruction. A part of the contributions is also used for research on how to optimise recycling. (Source: Decision of the Commission from 30 October 2001 on the System for the Disposal of Used Cars in the Netherlands)

Although the directive has not yet been completely implemented in all the member states and not all the targets have been achieved, yet the regulations have already started showing initial results: The use of hazardous substances was reduced and an increasing number of vehicle parts is being reused or recycled. Even Croatia has made progress in recycling in spite of the economic crisis: Whereas in 2001, 35,000 t. of end-of-life vehicles used to end up in so-called car dumps, this figure was reduced to roughly one-fourth in 2008. (Source: GTAI) Moreover, free of cost take-back and recycling systems are meanwhile in place for the vehicle owner in all the member states.

Automobile manufacturers and their suppliers in all the member states are obliged to publish information on the construction of the vehicles, on the environmentally friendly handling of end-of-life vehicles, on prevention of waste and on the progress made in recovery and recycling besides disclosing information on how to deconstruct the vehicle. The IMDS and IDIS systems which are updated regularly are particularly helpful here. They facilitate a seamless documentation of the data and help to meet the requirements.

We would be happy to assist you in setting up the relevant processes for material reporting within your company and would take over all the activities related to IMDS at your request. In our seminars and webinars, we will keep you up to date on all the new developments.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 13 October 2015 09:27


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