Car makers to establish dismantler networks by July 2005

Car manufacturers will have to submit details of their national networks of dismantlers by July 2005, according to draft regulations transposing the producer responsibility provisions of the EU Directive on end-of-life vehicles.1 As expected, the system of measuring compliance with the Directive's recycling and recovery targets will be based on targets for each manufacturer's vehicles.

The ELVs Directive is being transposed into UK law using two sets of regulations. The first, issued in October, set out details of the licensing regime for scrap car recyclers. They also implemented the EU restrictions on the use of heavy metals in new cars and provisions on the coding of plastic and rubber components (ENDS Report 345, p 41 ).

A second set of draft regulations was issued in February. These cover the thorny issues of how to provide a network of facilities to allow free take-back of ELVs and how car manufacturers will demonstrate that they are meeting the Directive's recycling and recovery targets.

Not surprisingly, given the car industry's lobbying power, the Department of Trade and Industry has accepted its preference for the own marque route (ENDS Report 342, pp 50-51 ). This will require manufacturers and importers to meet targets specifically for their own vehicles. The approach rules out a market in tradable recovery certificates.

  • Registration: Producers will have to apply to the DTI by 31 December 2004 for registration, declaring responsibility for the vehicles which they have put on the market prior to the date of their application and, if known, for the vehicles which they expect to put on the market after that date.

  • Orphan vehicles: The DTI may assign responsibility for the free take-back and recovery of so-called "orphan" vehicles - those marques for which no existing company has responsibility - to a particular producer. However, the DTI expects that responsibility for orphan vehicles will be allocated to producers collectively via an enforceable agreement between the Secretary of State and the sector, using powers set out in the regulations.

  • Networks of treatment facilities: By 1 July 2005 each producer will have to submit a plan to the DTI to assure it that it has established a network of licensed dismantlers - or authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) - that is "adequate" to deal with all the vehicles for which it has responsibility, and which are likely to become ELVs during 2006.

    The reason for this date is that while producers will not become responsible for providing free take-back of all ELVs until 2007, the Directive requires the first set of recovery and recycling targets to be achieved in 2006.

    Each plan must indicate the treatment capacity of each ATF. The DTI will assume a one-hour average process time per ELV.

    The plans must also ensure that, on average, last holders of ELVs for which that producer has responsibility will not have to drive more than 10 miles to reach an ATF, and that no individual last holder would have to drive more than 50 miles. Earlier suggestions that plans should be based on regional contracts have been dropped.

    On this basis, the DTI estimates that some 370 ATFs might be needed within a producer's network - although any particular ATF can belong to more than one producer network. The Environment Agency forecasts that there will be some 1,750 ATFs available in 2006/07 and does not expect a capacity shortfall.

    A producer who wants to contract with fewer ATFs, on the grounds that its expected number of ELVs would need limited dismantling capacity, may choose to adopt "alternative approaches", provided the convenience for last holders is not compromised. Smaller producers who expect to have relatively few ELVs could, for example, collect ELVs from last owners and take them to ATFs in their network.

    A producer can ask the DTI to agree to a larger or smaller number of ATFs in its approved network. Such requests must be made not less than six months before the year in which the producer wants them to take effect.

    A producer can also sub-contract delivery of its network to a "service provider", such as a compliance scheme. However, unlike the packaging waste regime, the statutory obligations would remain with the producer.

    ATFs that do not agree contracts with producers will still be able to dismantle ELVs, but will be expected to cover the free take-back and treatment costs themselves. They will also be responsible for meeting the recycling and recovery targets and will have to ensure that material from their ELVs is sent for recycling, and that they can acquire evidence of compliance with the targets. These obligations will also apply to contracted ATFs that accept ELVs of a marque for which they are not contracted.

  • Recovery targets: The Directive requires 80% of ELVs to be reused or recycled and 85% to be reused or recovered by 1 January 2006. These rise to 85% and 95%, respectively, from January 2015.

    Meeting the 85% reuse/recovery target for 2006 will be a "huge challenge", warns the Environment Agency, because almost all recovery takes the form of recycling or reuse. But the DTI has dismissed the idea of interim targets before 2006 - presumably because there is too little time left to allow producers to meet them.

    It has also ignored the chance the set interim targets for the period between 2007 and 2014 - possibly because it hopes that the 2015 targets will be revised downwards when they are reviewed in the next few years.

    Under the regime being proposed, producers will have to recover 85% of the weight of ELVs for which they have declared responsibility, or for which they have been assigned responsibility, and which have been taken back by ATFs in their contracted networks during 2006, and each year thereafter until 2015.

    Ensuring that producers and ATFs meet their recycling and recovery targets will be the responsibility of the Environment Agency and its counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Earlier proposals for six-monthly declarations from producers on the number of ELVs treated on its behalf have gone. Instead by 1 March each year, beginning in 2007, producers and obligated ATFs will have to provide the Agency with evidence that they have achieved the necessary reuse/recycling and reuse/recovery tonnages for the total weight of vehicles for which they have responsibility and were accepted into their ATF network the previous calendar year.

    Obligated parties must provide the Agency with a certificate of compliance, similar to that required under the packaging regulations.

    The form of evidence to demonstrate that recycling or recovery has taken place has yet to be decided. The Directive required the European Commission to establish detailed rules by October 2002 that would govern Member States' compliance with the targets, but these are not expected before April.

    The latest proposal would allow Member States to assume a specific recovery and recycling rate for the metallic fraction of ELVs. The assumption must be supported by "detailed scientific data".

    The recovery and recycling rates of non-metallic materials would be based on "declarations from the receiving recycling, recovery or collection company, weighing notes, other forms of book keeping or disposal notes." This would require a statutory obligation on dismantlers and recyclers to collect and report data.

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