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End of Life Vehicle Directive

The End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive issued by the European Union has a purpose to reduce the amount of waste and the impact waste disposal has on the environment when vehicles are scrapped. An end of life vehicle is a vehicle that has come to the end of its life because of general wear and tear and applies to vehicles usually over ten years old.

A premature early life vehicle is a vehicle that has come to the end of its life earlier than anticipated because of a fire, accident or vandalism. In certain circumstances, these types of vehicles may be repaired and resold on approval by insurance companies or are commissioned for dismantling in order to reuse and recycle spare parts.

Car Waste is Hazardous Waste

There are an estimated 600 million cars in the world with nearly 50 million produced in 2006 alone.  In the UK, it is estimated that over two million cars, trucks, vans and lorries reach the end of their life annually which produces a lot of waste. This waste is deemed to be in the hazardous waste category until it is dismantled, treated and where necessary disposed in a responsible manner.

The reclamation and scrapping of car metals such as steel and iron has been profitable for centuries. However in recent years, with the concern for the environment and the overload of landfill sites, targets have been set to reduce the amount of vehicle waste and to recycle components and metals as much as possible. This also makes the scrapping of cars a more responsible process. It also gives regulation to the process of recycling, reusing, treating and disposing of vehicles.

Before the ELV Directive was issued, metal components that could be reused would only make up to 75 per cent of total scrap by weight. The precious and lucrative metals were salvaged to be sold on, however other components such as plastics, rubber and glass were regarded as worthless which meant that they were disposed of in landfill sites. This would take up land and pose risks of land contamination from mercury and heavy metals as well as other harmful chemicals found in vehicles.

scrapping car

Responsible Car Scrapping

As s result of this situation which could not continue, in 2000 the European Union passed the End of Life Vehicles Directive (ELV Directive). The ELV Directive is made up of six parts as follows:

•    prevention
•    collection
•    reuse and recovery
•    treatment
•    information gathering and dissemination
•    implementation

Article 5 in the directive gives more responsibility to both the produce of the vehicle and the vehicle owner. In order to dispose of their car, the owner needs to obtain a certificate of destruction to decommission or deregister their vehicle. In doing so, they are certifying that they have taken their vehicle to an approved scrap dealer or `Authorised Treatment Facility’, otherwise known as an ATF.
An Authorised Treatment Facility is responsible for the storage and stripping of vehicles with responsible attention of hazardous components, fluids and materials, and also the recycling and reuse of vehicle components.

Recycling Targets

There are also targets stated as part of the directive that a minimum of 95 per cent of vehicles shall be recovered and reused and 85 per cent of vehicles parts will be reused and recycled.
Other directives in conjunction with the ELV Directive are also in place for the safe recovery, disposal and reuse of vehicles and which covers certain other parts of a vehicle. One such directive which deals with electrical and electronic equipment that is found in vehicles is The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE). This provides guidelines on the disposal of electronics. Another directive is in place for the disposal of chemical substances, the kind that are used in vehicle mechanical fluids.

These innovative directives will form a blueprint to the rest of the world and global governments to present guidelines and develop policies on the responsible accountable disposal of vehicles.

Sonya writes for which provides a safe and licensed treatment facility for scrap cars.