EGARA’s Feedback on the European Commission’s Proposal for Vehicle Regulation: Strengthening Circular Practices and Addressing Export Challenges

Henk Jan Nix, General Secretary of the European Group of Automotive Recycling Associations (EGARA), provides insights on the European Commission’s Proposal for Vehicle Regulation, aiming to enhance circular practices and tackle export challenges. The July published proposal for the vehicle directive merges regulations, stressing recycling-oriented vehicle design. Feedback includes concerns about restricted part reuse impacting the environment and legal dismantlers. EGARA pledges ongoing evaluation and communication on improvements.

EGARA responded to the European Commission (EC) call to ‘Have your say’ about the proposal for a car regulation. This new Regulation was published on 13th July  2023. One might wonder what this has to do with the UK as it’s EU law but bear in mind that non-EU members often copy EU laws or use them as best examples for their own legislation. Apart from that, some articles cover import/export that will undoubtedly apply to trade of cars from the UK to the rest of Europe. The current ELV (End of Live Vehicle) Directive is modernized. The most significant change is the Type Approval Directive (3RTA) and ELV Directive, which were merged into one Regulation.

This merge means the proposal is actually circular in design. OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers or Car producers) have to produce vehicles with recycled content and in a circular way (design for recycling). Also, more materials have to be separated at the source by dismantlers. In the case of a directive, implementation of national laws where a regulation works directly was always necessary.

We’re now in the so-called ‘co-decision’ phase, which means the European Parliament (EP) is looking at the proposal, and they can adopt or amend it. The EC wishes to hear how the proposal is received and, for this reason, asks for feedback from the various stakeholders. EGARA submitted feedback, and so did most (if not all) of her members. This was possible until the 4th of December.

Without going too deep into detail, we can state that it’s a well-thought-through proposal in which the experience of last year and the stakeholder’s comments are visible. The focus moved from abandoned cars to missing vehicles. In many countries, vehicles just disappear from the registers without being deregistered for dismantling, or after, they have been exported without re-registration anywhere.

Most important points:

  • Producer’s info for parts (both materials as parts numbers)
  • Digital blocked parts are forbidden
  • Calculation of compensation for unprofitable removal per waste stream or compulsory parts removal
  • Description of when a car is a car and when it’s an ELV

This last point may be of interest, especially for non-EU countries, as it may affect their business. The EC tries to get a grip on so-called fake exports, in which case ELVs are exported as if they were second-hand cars. Most of these vehicles should be treated in the country of origin as there’s more than enough capacity. Instead, they end up abroad in the illegal sector, disrupting both markets.

The regulation states that the export of used vehicles is allowed if they are not ELVs and are roadworthy (have a valid MOT). Also, a lot of data exchange between customs is required.  Annex 1 of the regulation describes when a car is considered an ELV regarding repairability and missing essential parts. Some of these details need clarification, and some need to be discussed. In short, the export of ELVs will become more challenging.

Other points that need attention:

  • Parts not to be reused like steering parts, airbags and tensioners and emission parts like silencers, filters and catalyst converters;
  • Electrical ELVs that can be delivered without battery.

The above points have a counterproductive effect making the footprint of cars unnecessarily bigger and weakening the position of legal dismantlers. Good parts need to be discarded, and cars that could receive them to last a few extra years are not repaired and need to be dismantled prematurely as repair with new parts is too expensive. We are the industry to remove batteries and any other parts and to decide their destiny. We need complete cars, not cars that others have cherrypicked. There’s no valid reason to exclude parts from reuse or to have them removed by others other than dismantlers.

We commented on many more details like enforcement (inspections need to happen more than every ten years and should be risk-based to rule out illegals), IDIS (info is absent or impossible to find), collection points (who needs them?), EPR (only for ATFs in the networks? Who decides who’s in the producers’ networks?), repairability (if an engine or gearbox is broken, replacement is a perfectly normal option) and many more.

EGARA remains committed to preserving what is effective and modifying aspects that require improvement, and we’ll ensure you stay updated along the way.

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