UK misses ELV targets despite rate increase

EXCLUSIVE: The UK recorded a 1.9% increase in its End of Life Vehicle (ELV) recycling and recovery rate in 2017, but remains short of meeting EU targets for the second consecutive year.

Newly-released European Commission data reveals that the UK achieved a rate of 94.1% in 2017,  up from 92.2% the previous year. Despite the rise, this falls short of the 95% overall target the EU has set.

In terms of tonnages, a total of 1.47 million tonnes were captured in the UK – the highest in Europe – up from 1.14 million in 2016.

The UK recycled 1.33 million tonnes in 2017, which means that excluding recovery the UK’s rate stood at around 90%, which meets the EU target for 85% for recycling alone.

As outlined in the table below, the figures –  which are for the 2017 calendar year and are the most recent as they take around two years to compile and approve – show that the UK ranked 17th in the European league tables, with six countries yet to submit data.


When approached by letsrecycle.com, a Defra spokesperson spoke positively of the figures, and pointed to the upcoming review of the ELV system, which is due to take place by 2021.

The UK’s rate was below its European counterparts, but its overall tonnage both generated and recycled far exceeded other states

“It is encouraging to see the recycling rate rising, with almost 120,000 tonnes more material reused, recycled and recovered than the previous year and more vehicles handled than ever before,” the spokesperson said.

They added: “Our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy sets out how we will go further and faster, to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and help leave the environment in a better state than we found it for future generations. This includes ELVs, where we set out our intention to review the current regulatory approach in 2021.”

Vehicle weight

The release of the 2017 data comes around eight months since the last set of statistics for the recycling and recovery of ELVs was released in January (see letsrecycle.com story).

Here, it was said that the rate drop of 4.7% to 92.25% is down to a range of factors including an increase in the size of vehicles on the road compared to previous years and changes in the data used to assess volumes in the ELV stream as well as challenges in dealing with non-metallic post shredder material.

Weights change

When approached for comment by letsrecycle.com, Howard Bluck, technical director of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), reiterated that the rates fell below targets because of the change of vehicle weight.

“I believe my comments made in January regarding the failure to meet the 2016 target remains valid for 2017.”

Howard Bluck, British Metal Recyclers Association

“I believe my comments made in January regarding the failure to meet the 2016 target remains valid for 2017.  A further future challenge for the sector will be the shift from conventionally fuelled to hybrid electric to fully electric vehicles.” he explained.

Mr Bluck added: “Through our membership of the ferrous recovery and recycling branch of EuRIC, we are preparing to respond to the recently launched consultation reviewing the ELV Directive.   We will propose ELV collection rates to help combat the illegal trade in ELV.

“We will also use the opportunity to call for a revised definition of an ELV; strengthening the CoD system (with the last owner remaining responsible for a vehicle until a CoD is issued i.e. to compel them to use only properly approved treatment facilities); improved registration and de-registration system to reduce ‘leakage’ in the system and; legal certainty on the relationship between waste and chemicals legislation, especially as it relates to legacy chemicals/additives.”

As outlined below, the 94.1% achieved is still lower than the record-high 96.9% reached in 2015, which would have seen the UK ranked 11th this year.

Join more than 2000 visitors on 03 & 04 June 2020 at the Complete Auto Recycling Show (CARS) –  Europe’s leading event dedicated to end of life vehicles. Visit www.cars-expo.com

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