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BIR CONVENTION: ELV Target Gets Tougher

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French automakers and recyclers research plastics recycling in effort to comply with ELV directive.

June 3, 2008

The European Union’s End of Life Vehicle directive (ELV) has set firm targets for automobile recycling, with the targets aiming higher as time passes. The directive “has caused much controversy and raised concern in the auto the recycling industries,” noted Jens Hempel-Hansen, a Danish scrap recycler who moderated a session on the ELV Directive at the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) 2008 Spring Convention.

 

Session attendees heard from two French-based automakers and a French scrap company relative to that nation’s experience in complying with the ELV Directive.

 

Manuel Burnand of scrap company Derichebourg reported that French dismantlers and scrap recyclers are currently recycling between 82 and 83 percent of the content of ELVs being generated in France. Reaching the initial ELV target of 85 percent should thus not be difficult.

 

To reach the next target of 95 percent in the year 2015, however, will require research and investment into recycling the plastic portion of obsolete vehicles. “R&D on ASR is still needed,” said Burnand.

 

Rozenn Leborgne of automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen said her company is taking its role in reaching the 95 percent target seriously. “It is our responsibility as automobile designers,” she stated.

 

She held out as part of that solution that her company is using more recycled-content plastics, with this being a “main action in the 2008 sustainable development plan” of the company.

 

PSA Peugeot Citroen’s approach has been to work with existing auto dismantlers and scrap companies to boost recycling levels. “We, as a car manufacturer, are not a professional on the treatment of ELVs. Operators have existed for many years even before the ELV directive, and their [business] is profitable and will remain so.”

 

Rival automaker Renault has taken a more direct approach, forming joint ventures and striking other formal arrangements with auto dismantlers and recycling companies.

 

“Dismantling and shredding are both necessary and complimentary,” Renault’s J.P. Hermine told attendees.

 

The automaker is convinced that the metals portion of ELVs has a stable market, but more research is needed for plastics. Like PSA, Renault is using more recycled-content plastic, including 17 percent of the plastic in its Laguna III model (more than 100 components with recycled content plastic).

 

With plastics, elastomers and foam making up an estimated 17 percent of the ELV stream, reaching the 95 percent target involves plastic-based efforts, said Hermine. “Plastics recycling and glass (window) recycling are the major challenges for the future,” he stated.

 

Two equipment makers who were present each predicted that the technology to sort shredded plastic is advancing. “I think technology is not too far away [to] seriously enhance the recycling of shredder residue,” said Michael Bevan of the German office of optical sorting equipment maker TiTech.

 

Scott Newell of The Shredder Co., based in the United States, also expressed confidence that “technology is being developed to separate the plastic post-shredder. I predict you will see that to a big extent,” he remarked, though adding that recyclers will have to be convinced there is a return on any such investment.

 

The BIR 2008 World Recycling Convention & Exhibition is taking place in early June in Monte Carlo. 

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