ELV Directive targets: Lindsay Millington, director general, British Metals Recycling Association

19 March 2008

BMRA director general Lindsay Millington calls on DVLA to increase its commitment to meeting ELV Directive targets

Lindsay Millington is Director General of the British Metals Recycling Association, the trade association for ferrous and non ferrous metal recycling companies. She represents the industry on a number of UK and European bodies, including Defra's waste strategy stakeholder group and the BERR end-of-life vehicle consultation group. Following an early career in the not-for-profit sector, she was chief executive of the metals sector skills body, MetSkill, from 1990 to 2005, where she led a variety of initiatives including the re-introduction of metals manufacturing apprenticeships and vocational qualifications.

Every year over 2 million vehicles reach the end of their life in the UK. They don't end up in landfill and they're not fly-tipped. In fact, they are our biggest recycling success story.

Every year 1.5 million tonnes of metal and around 200,000 tonnes of other materials are recovered from vehicles as secondary raw materials, using some of the most advanced shredder and media separation technology in the world.

Moreover, the UK recovers more cars than any other European country, 30% more than France, and three times as many as Germany, in part because our right-hand-drive vehicles don't get exported for a second life in Eastern Europe.

So why don't we celebrate this success? The main reason is a failing Certificate of Destruction (CoD) system, which allows the illegal disposal of vehicles to continue; and makes it nigh on impossible for the DVLA to accurately account for vehicles destroyed.

Weak enforcement of CoD requirements, together with the continuation of alternatives, encourage illegal operators to

prosper; a situation with significant commercial and environmental consequences. Such operators do not invest in the costly depollution rigs or administrative systems required of legitimate Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs). Legal ATFs lose business as a result, and environmental protection is ignored.

These failures also mean that DVLA is unable to provide figures which accurately match CoDs and ELVs. To put it another way, the licensing authority loses track of hundreds of thousands of vehicles every year. And this forces BERR into reporting a much lower figure for the recovery of vehicles under the ELV Directive; and means  the Environment Agency has to play ‘catch up', relying on newspaper campaigns and whistleblowers to expose illegal sites

BMRA members believe the answer is simple. A joined-up CoD system could be achieved if the vehicle's last registered owner was forced to obtain a Certificate when the vehicle was scrapped. An incentive for, or penalty on, the last owner would make this happen. Just one other thing is needed - the will of the licensing authority to make this commitment to UK recycling success.