National legislation concerning producer responsibility getting in place

  • as usual: With focus on seeking to avoid costs for producers!

Now – with less than four month to go when the full producer responsibility for all ELVs coming into effect according to the Directive (2000/53/EC), most countries have got their national laws into shape, and as usual: With focus on seeking to avoid costs for producers!

Recently we have now seen the Swedish legislation, and once again we have to congratulate the car-producers for having managed to make an efficient lobbying!

As readers of this journal will know, the fight about costs and who has to pay – if there are costs involved in de-polluting etc. according to Annex 1 of the Directive – has bee a hot issue over the past two years (at least). Even though the report from the Commission’s Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) on the targets in the Directive and how to achieve them, quite clearly said that, there may be costs involved, the car-producers have consistently said that, this it is true that there are costs – but these costs can easily be covered by the value of the ELV – and all ELVs have a positive value!

We in EGARA have – equally consistent – said: This is not a universal truth –but a function of the price of scrap metal and other “valuables” in the ELV.

In practice: With the currently exorbitantly high prices on scarp metal, the producers are right – but if the prices drop – we may have a situation where there are costs involved, and if so: These should be born by the producers, according to the Directive!

Reading the Swedish law – and especially the text concerning the reasoning behind it –is what makes me congratulate the car-producers, because it is stated (with my translation from Swedish):

“Full producer responsibility will lead to that the producers will get responsibility for a higher volume of especially older ELVs. However, the producers are of the opinion that income from sales of scrap metal and a more efficient handling will lead to that there will not be any costs”.

So: Producers state things – and apparently: Law makers listen! – and this: Also in Sweden!

This is not only astonishing, but also ridiculous! Especially in Sweden, where the car-producers together with our Swedish colleagues in SBR during 2001 undertook detailed studies and measurements on times and costs involved in de-pollution etc., studies that clearly showed that there are costs and whether these can be covered from the sales of scrap metal, is clearly a function of the scrap metal price!

But of course: The conclusions from this detailed study were drawn before full producer responsibility was applied – and now, when it applies, the producers simply state that this study is too old, and things have changed since 2001.

Right! Scrap metal prices have changed dramatically – but other things have not changed so dramatically! So accepting the statement from the producers, one has implicitly also accepted that scrap metal prices will remain high! But perhaps the Swedish government will guarantee this?

My feeling is that, the Swedish law-makers appear to have taken the statement of the producers without even, neither looking at facts in the study, nor even considering updating the study – and this even though our Swedish colleagues in SBR have suggested this!

So: Shame on the Swedish government and congratulations to the car-producers in managing to get the government to neglect facts!

In EGARA we can only recommend the Swedish government to look at our proposal once again, where we state:

All we have to do is to find out – which was in fact done in the Swedish study, but perhaps needs to be “updated” – the following elements:

  1. Which are the operations necessary in order to “treat” an ELV according to “rules”?
  2. How long time do these operations take to perform? – and then:
  3. What are the labor costs(including overheads for investments) for doing this
  4. What does it cost to get rid of the waste fractions?
  5. Which revenues can be retrieved from some waste fractions?

The equation therefore looks as follows:

Value of an ELV =

   Income from (certain) waste fractions.

÷ Labour costs for de-polluting etc. according to the Directive

÷ Costs for delivering (most) waste fractions to authorised receivers

Doing this per individual ELV is of course administratively complicated, and if we could agree on a model (per country) based on:

  • average ELVs, perhaps in 3-4 different types
  • average treatment times for these, using adequate equipment
  • average labor costs with average overheads
  • average waste fees, with regular updates, e.g. quarterly

this would be a model which would be fair to all stakeholders, at the same time being simple to work with. It would also be in line with “market conditions”, since ATFs that have higher costs than the “averages” would be forced to become more effective, whereas those that have “done the extra” would get a “reward”.

EGARA is willing to continue work on this and looks forward to a constructive collaboration with other “operators” – and hopefully also: The Swedish government?

Lennart Scharff