The European Union has set a 95% materials recycling target for end-of-life vehicles, and many auto shredder operators in Europe have shown a willingness to expand their sorting technology to try to help hit that target.
A proposed anti-pollution regulation in Germany, however, has auto shredding plant operators worried that ELV shredding could become a thing of the past in that nation if strict new changes to the Technical Instruction Air (TA Luft) become law.
Regarding the proposed modifications to TA Luft, “The draft shows that this one will be much more ambitious than the current valid version. If the draft [becomes] reality, most shredders must shut down,” says Birgit Guschall-Jaik of Germany’s Federal Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Management (BVSE). She also says of the BVSE’s reaction to the TA Luft proposal, “We are working on changing this.”
A regulation that stifles shredding is likely to put the 95% target well out of reach, says Guschall-Jaik, putting the new German law at odds with the EU ELV directive. “Dismantlers and shredders have to achieve [the 95% target] together,” says Guschall-Jaik. “It's only possible when you process the residues.”
She continues, “Most of the shredders remove the metals from the light fraction or treat the heavy fraction in a sink-float-plant. All the German shredders send the rest to incinerators [or waste-to-energy plants]. Because the [incinerator/waste-to-energy] costs increased significantly in 2016, the costs are a problem for all of the shredder operators.”
Advances toward the 95% target will involve more plastic scrap separation and processing, says Guschall-Jaik, an investment process that is starting to happen and is likely to be accomplished by the types of large scrap companies that own shredders.
In a statement released earlier in January 2017, BVSE President Bernhard Reiling remarks, “The intensive joint work on the Packing Act, the Commercial Waste Ordinance, the Mantels Ordinance and the TA Luft—or the Amendment to the Federal Pollution Control Ordinance—will continue to be at the top of the list of priorities of the BVSE [in 2017.].”
The metals recycling sector is not alone in questioning the practicability of the TA Luft modifications. A January 2017 commentary from a consortium of energy and utility sector associations decried the lack of “technical feasibility” of the proposed TA Luft standards. The “unfounded tightening of the [emissions] limit values jeopardizes the majority of existing biomass heating plants and prevents new projects,” says the Fachverband Holzenergie (FVH) (Wood Energy Association).