Germany, UK, Spain Lay Down Car Recycling Regs

LONDON, United Kingdom, August 15, 2001 (ENS) - Car manufacturers are being forced into the position of assuming responsibility for dealing with vehicles that have reached the end of their days on the roads of the European Union.

The British and German governments have simultaneously put forward plans to implement the European Union's 2000 end-of-life vehicles (ELV) directive in advance of next April's legal deadline for transposition by all 15 European Union member countries.

The developments follow immediately after a similar announcement from Spain. The Spanish government last Friday approved a five year national plan for end-of-life vehicles following an extended period of negotiation with industry and autonomous regional administrations.

Under the ELV directive, the European Union is aiming to ensure that at least 85 percent of old cars by weight is recycled by 2006. That proportion will rise to 95 percent from 2015.

Manufacturers will have to bear most or all the costs of taking back and recycling vehicles from 2007. A range of hazardous substances will be banned in new cars from July 2003.

A key element of the German proposals is that car makers will bear the full costs of achieving the directive's scrap vehicle recycling targets. Opposition to this from the country's major manufacturers nearly succeeded in derailing the law, first during negotiations between European Union governments in July of 1999 and then in the European Parliament in February 2000.

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Cars in a German junkyard (Photos courtesy Tin Hunter archive)
The full parliament rejected two key amendments advanced by German members Karl-Hein To soften the blow of annual costs after 2007 put at around 409 million euros (US$373.5 million), the German Environment Ministry is proposing substantial tax breaks for vehicle manufacturers.

Launching the proposals for consultation on Friday, German Junior Environment Minister Rainer Baake stressed that the measures would lead to the development of more recycling friendly vehicles. The plan will go to the full government after a hearing next month.

Also released on Friday, the UK consultation paper sets out three alternative systems to control collection, treatment and recycling of scrap cars while leaving the key issue of financing to a later stage.

Among the control options are proposals for tonnage recycling targets for each producer, options for manufacturers to meet their responsibilities individually or by forming collectives, and a possible tradeable permit scheme.

The UK environment ministry also proposes electronic notification for "destruction certificates" to be issued by permitted treatment facilities, as well as a voluntary agreement with industry to implement some of the provisions of the European Union ELV law.

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{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}