End-of-Life Vehicles

The fate of the end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) begins with their dismantling at designated facilities to recover usable parts for resale or remanufacture. Next, the remaining hulk goes to a shredding facility for separation into ferrous (iron-containing) and non-ferrous metals, both of which are recycled. The remaining non-metallic scrap, known as shredder residue typically consists of a mix of materials: polyurethane foams, polymers, a “fines” fraction that includes metal oxides, glass and dirt, and small amounts of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. For each ton of metal recovered by a shredding facility, roughly 250 kilograms of shredder residue are produced which still consist lots of potentially reusable material that could be recovered.

Every year, End of Life Vehicles (ELV) generate between 8 and 9 million tonnes of waste in the Community which should be managed correctly. In 1997, the European Commission adopted a Proposal for a Directive which aims at making vehicle dismantling and recycling more environmentally friendly, sets clear quantified targets for reuse, recycling and recovery of vehicles and their components and pushes producers to manufacture new vehicles also with a view to their recyclability. New legislation governing end of life vehicles, the EU’s ELV Directive, was introduced on January 1, 2015.For all end-of-life vehicles, the reuse and recovery shall be increased to a minimum of 95% by an average weight per vehicle and year. Within the same time limit the reuse and recycling shall be increased to a minimum of 85% by an average weight per vehicle and year.

Although most Member States have transposed the Directive and communicated their transpositions to the Commission, steps to achieve effective implementation are far from complete today, even though the first targets set for reuse, recycling and recovery are to be met not later than 1 January 2006.

The biggest constituent part of a vehicle for recovery are metals followed by plastic and glass. The recycling of the (main) metals – with some losses – is mainly driven by their economic value. However, to reach the current recycling (80%) and recovery (85%) targets as set by the ELV-Directive and in particular those to be achieved by 2015 (85%/95%) recycling and recovery of further materials is necessary even if economically less viable.

ELV waste offers considerable potential for material recovery. Beside metals, materials/components most relevant in terms of their contribution to the recycling/recovery rates are:

  • plastics (approx. 10 % of ELV weight)
  • tyres (approx. 30 kg/ELV)
  • glass (approx. 25 kg/ELV)

For example the components of Volkswagen Golf Mark 7 include:

  • Steel and iron: 62.9%
  • Operating fluids and tools: 2.3%
  • Electronics: 0.1%
  • Composites and sundries: 3.3%
  • Process polymers: 1.1%
  • Mixed polymers: 19.5%
  • Other non-ferrous metals: 2.6%
  • Aluminium alloys: 8.2%