End-of-life vehicle (ELV) recyclers have called for tougher enforcement of laws around car scrappage, claiming that as many as 500,000 vehicles are being illegally scrapped in the UK every year.
And, it is claimed that lax enforcement of ELV regulations is leading to a disadvantage for fully licensed sites, which are faced with higher operating costs than illegal operators, who can consequently offer a higher price to people selling vehicles.
Recyclers claim that there are a large number of vehicles entering scrap yards for which certificates of destruction (CoDs) the legal document proving that a vehicle has been scrapped are not being issued. CoDs are required to be passed to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – which runs the national vehicle database – in order to verify that a vehicle has been dismantled.
However, responsibility for ensuring that the UK meets its ELV recycling targets lies within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and vehicle recyclers have claimed that it is difficult to lobby for changes to the system when accountability is spread across government departments.
Dr Chas Ambrose, chair of the Motor Vehicles Dismantlers’ Association (MVDA), said: We know there are a huge number of vehicles, somewhere between 500,000 and 800,000 that are not having CoDs. These people wont be meeting recycling targets, they wont have licences or proper treatment infrastructure and have a competitive advantage over legal operators.
‘We know there are a huge number of vehicles, somewhere between 500,000 and 800,000 that are not having CoDs. These people wont be meeting recycling targets, they wont have licences or proper treatment infrastructure and have a competitive advantage over legal operators.’
Dr Chas Ambrose, MVDA
I understand that the regulator is faced with losses, but when it comes down to tackling illegal sites, where are they going to get the money to do that? The real problem lies with the government, but they dont want to do anything about it.
Meanwhile, Peter Stokes, environment manager at scrap car recycling network CarTakeBack, commented that poor monitoring by the DVLA of the number of CoDs being issued by scrap recyclers is allowing illegal operators to continue to function unimpeded.
He said: A vehicle is only liable to be recorded towards the target if the CoD is issued. If you are a part of the legitimate infrastructure, you will want to ensure that this is being done properly.
However, it does not appear that there any of that is being checked by the DVLA to see if they have been scrapped or if they are sitting dormant somewhere.
However, according to a spokesperson for BIS, work to tackle the illegal scrapping of vehicles is ongoing, including measures to improve the CoD process.
For a more in-depth look at the vehicle scrapping trade, sign up for CARS: Complete Auto Recycling & Secondary Materials in June 2014. Organised by Environment Media Group, it is the only trade show in the UK held on a working salvage yard – Motorhog in Doncaster.
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He said: The government continues to pursue a range of end of life vehicle enforcement activities. These include the Environment Agency stopping illegal ELV activity at some 227 sites over the 2012/13 period.
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 has introduced stricter recording requirements, as well as a ban on cash payments for scrap vehicles. Work also continues with the DVLA, in partnership with industry, to improve Certificate of Destruction processes. Taken together, these measures aim to keep ELV treatment to permitted Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs).
Elsewhere, calls have also been made to ensure that vehicle manufacturers are more closely involved with the end of life vehicle process. Keith Freegard, director of Axion Polymers, which operates an advanced shredder waste processing plant in Trafford Park, Manchester, has echoed the calls for tougher enforcement legislation to ensure that CoDs are issued on all scrapped vehicles.
He said: This would ensure accurate data on how many vehicles are going to de-pollution centres and being processed properly and just how many are left on our roads.
Meanwhile, he also called for greater incentives for manufacturers to use recycled materials in new vehicles, arguing that this would give them more interest in the scrapping process.
He added: Personally, I would like to see stronger drivers to link manufacturers responsibility to what happens to their end-of-life vehicles, particularly in terms of incentives to promote the use of recycled plastics back into new cars.
With our booming car industry gobbling up resources, more attention should be given to true responsibility for those materials at end-of-life, through recovery via efficient technologies, which deliver the 2015 recycling target and promote the flow of circular materials.