In parliament >> Mystery of the missing cars

8th November 2013

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  • Pollution & Waste Management



Chris Davies MEP asks where 500,000 potentially polluting end-of-life vehicles go each year

The End-of-Life Vehicles Directive (2000/53/EC) is more than 10 years old. It requires a certificate of destruction to be issued to the last owner of every car being sold for scrap.

This is supposed to ensure that the vehicle will be properly decontaminated by an authorised treatment facility (ATF) before being crushed.

The neat cube of material is then sent to shredders, which are required to recycle 85% of the material – from 2015 shredders must recycle or recover 95%.

Tens of millions of cars are scrapped in Europe every year. EU laws – reinforced by the UK’s landfill tax – are driving the process of ensuring they are dealt with properly.

The UK is proving that near 100% recycling or recovery can be achieved, and this should be the aspiration of everyone who wants to cut resource use.

I recently visited a shredding operation, Nortons in Trafford Park, Manchester which surpasses EU requirements. Here Axion Recycling has built a state-of-the-art plant to enable materials to be separated for recycling. “It’s a bad month when we have to send anything at all to landfill,” I was told.

About 1.8 million vehicles are deregistered in the UK every year. Certificates of destruction are issued for some 1.1 million. Perhaps a further 200,000 go to export. So what happens to the remaining 500,000 cars? Either they are not going to an ATF – meaning the oils and fluids could end up in the local river – or they are going to ATFs that are flouting the rules.

At this point law enforcement should kick in and prosecutions follow, but successive governments have been lax. Enforcement procedures are confused. The business department is responsible, but is doing nothing.

No government minister has taken the issue on board or taken steps to ensure that the whole of the country can meet the 2015 standards. It is time someone did.


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