UK exceeds 2015 end of life vehicle recycling target

EXCLUSIVE: The UK has seen a jump of more than 6% in its End of Life Vehicle (ELV) recycling and recovery performance, meaning that it has met the 95% target set by the European Union for 2015.

The latest figures, just published by the European Commission, show that the UK’s performance in 2015 rose by a record amount to an overall recovery and reuse rate of 96.9% in 2015, up from 90.7% in 2014. This figure is higher than recorded by Germany, France, Norway and Sweden. Six countries were above the UK including Croatia with 99% and both Poland and Luxembourg on 97%. Italy was the lowest recorded with 84%.

The data for 2015 is the latest available as the numbers take about two years to be compiled by the EU’s statistics team.

ELV recycling UK
The UK’s performance in dealing with ELVs has improved steadily since 2011

The figures show that the number of end of life vehicles counted for the UK (cars and light commercial vehicles) was down by more than 110,000 in 2015 at 995,527 compared to the 2014 figure of 1,106,846. This continues a downward trend on the overall number of cars processed since 2012 (see story).

The UK generated 966,657 tonnes of overall ELV waste from this number. This is also a fall from 2014, where 1,074,747 tonnes of waste was generated.

Most other countries also experienced a reduction apart from Liechtenstein, Iceland, Latvia, Bulgaria, Finland, Czech Republic, Norway and Sweden.

ELV totals

The overall tonnage of reuse/recycling/recovery was 936,354, which gave the UK its final 96.9% figure. The UK recycled 829,431 tonnes of ELVs, the highest in the EU when strictly looking at recycling tonnage alone. This is down from 910,052 last year.

This meant that the total recycling and reuse rate alone was 87%, excluding recovery.

EU countries
Some of the performances of other member states: Italy was the lowest with 84.7% while Croatia was the highest with a reported 99.5%

The overall 95% figure was always seen as challenging for the UK which has only recently brought incineration plants on stream for residual waste from cars and there is expected to be relief and a feeling of success at achieving the target. However, the targets could be harder to meet from 2016 because the average weight of a car has been calculated at 1.1 tonnes (1,100 kg) rather than at 981 kg for 2015 and earlier. This follows research involving metal shredders which was supported by the Department for Business although ELV matters are now handled by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


The European Commission set its ELV rules through the 2000 Directive on end-of-life vehicles requiring member states to introduce systems to ensure that the targets were attained. These were to reach:

by 1 January 2006:

  • reuse/recovery rate: 85 %
  • reuse/ recycling rate: 80 %

and, No later than 1 January 2015:

  • reuse/recovery rate: 95 %
  • reuse/recycling rate: 85 %.

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