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Environmentally friendly handling of end-of-life vehicles

The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive on the environmentally friendly handling of end-of-life vehicles. The proposed Directive sets clear targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of vehicles and their components, and also encourages manufacturers to d...
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Directive on the environmentally friendly handling of end-of-life vehicles. The proposed Directive sets clear targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of vehicles and their components, and also encourages manufacturers to design and manufacture new vehicles with a view to their recyclability.

Currently, some eight or nine million vehicles are discarded in the EU every year, creating 8-9 million tonnes of waste annually. This figure is likely to increase, as increasing numbers of new vehicles are sold every year. Generally, around 25% of the waste generated from these vehicles, known as shredder waste, is disposed of in landfill sites, often contaminating the soil and groundwater. This type of waste, as well as oil waste from vehicles, represents up to 10% of the EU's total annual output of hazardous waste, and amounts to 60% of the EU's shredder waste.

The proposal requires vehicle owners to hand over end-of-life vehicles to registered facilities for dismantling, receiving a "de-registration" certificate. It applies the principle that vehicle dismantling will not be the responsibility of the public authorities, but shall be the task of the economic operators in the automotive chain.

The proposed Directive sets out the following targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of end-of-life vehicles. By 2005, reuse and recovery must account for 85% of vehicles' weight, and reuse and recycling 80%. By 2015, reuse and recovery should be 95% and reuse and recycling 85%. The proposal does not include PVC in its targets, since the problems of PVC disposal are to be dealt with in a future horizontal proposal, in view of its specific characteristics.

Mrs. Ritt Bjerregaard, Environment Commissioner, on whose initiative the proposal was adopted, stated that "End-of-life vehicles will, in a few years time, no longer be a source of pollution and a waste of resources". Furthermore, she noted that the proposal "seeks to demonstrate the efficiency of the polluter pays principle". She hoped that the proposal would be dealt with quickly by the Council and Parliament.
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