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End-of-Life Vehicle Recycling in European Union
N. Kanari, J.-L. Pineau, and S. Shallari*
Mineral Processing and Environmental Engineering Team
LEMa, CNRSb UMR 7569, ENSGc, INPLd, BP 40, 54501 Vandœuvre, France
E-mail : Ndue.Kanari@ensg.inpl-nancy.fr
* University of Tirana, Albania
Vehicles represent a main key of the today society and number of vehicles in use increases from
year to year. However, whole life cycle of vehicles has a considerable impact on the environment.
This impact is related to the energy and resource consumption, waste generation during their
manufacturing and use as well as at the end of their live. About 75 percent of end-of-life vehicles
(ELV), mainly metals, are recyclable in the European Union (EU). The rest (≈ 25 %) is considered
as waste and it goes generally to landfills. Environmental legislations of EU require to reduce this
waste to a maximum of 5 percent by 2015.
a. Laboratoire Environnement et Minéralurgie, rue du Doyen M. Roubault, BP 40, 54501 Vandœuvre Cedex, France.
b. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 3 rue Michel-Ange, 75794 Paris Cedex, France.
c. École Nationale Supérieure de Géologie, rue du Doyen M. Roubault, BP 40, 54501 Vandœuvre Cedex, France.
d. Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, 2 rue de la Forêt de Haye, 54501 Vandœuvre Cedex, France.
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The automobile manufactures had increased these two last decades and reached at about 58 million
units (excluding commercial vehicles) in 2000 (Figure 1). According to the OECD estimates, the
total number of vehicles in OECD countries was expected to grow by 32 % from 1997 to 2020. The
automobile production is more and less equally distributed between North and South America,
Europe and Asia.
Figure 1 - World Automotive Production from 1980 to 2000.
The evolution of the passenger car production in the European Union (EU) from 1995 to 2002 is
shown by Figure 2. More than 14.5 million car units per year are manufactured since 1998. While
total automobile production (passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks and buses) in 2002
was close to 17 million units. Mostly of the car production is concentrated in Germany, France,
Spain, Italy and Great Britain.
According to the available data, about 160 million cars were in use in the EU in 1995. The
figures of 2001 surplus 180 million units. On may mention that more than 80 % of these cars were
concentrated in the five above mentioned major producers of the EU countries. These data
concerning for the car production and cars in use indicate the importance of automobile industry in
our society which is a story of growth.
However, the automobile industry is facing a number of serious challenges related essentially with
its impact to environment. Vehicles affect our environment through whole their lifecycle.
Consumption of energy and resources, waste generation, greenhouse gases and hazardous substance
emissions as well as their disposal at the end their life are number of burdens related to the
automobile production and use.
This paper deals essentially with the recycling of the end-of-life vehicles (ELV) in the European
Union. Both, the current situation and the future goals will be summarized.
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Figure 2 – Passenger Car Production in the European Union.
CURRENT SITUATION OF ELV RECYCLING IN THE EU
Although recycling is generally the term used for the ELV, it incorporates the recycling itself,
recovery and reuse. The driving force, criteria and concept for ELV recycling are resulted from
different factors and they have changed with time. Development of the electric arc furnace at 1960-
70s increased dramatically use of vehicle shell as input scrap. Later, production of high quality steel
required the use of vehicle scrap free of nonferrous metals. This needed the magnetic separation of
ferrous metals from non-ferrous ones. Further, the separation and recovery of aluminum from ELV
had a high energetic advantage compared with aluminum produced from its ores.
Today, recycling of ELV is promoted not only by economic and technologic factors but also by
social and environmental concerns. In other words, automobile industry tray to shift towards
sustainable waste management.
Recycling options of ELV is related to the material used for the vehicle manufacturing as well as to
the assembling conception of the elements. Historically, the vehicle composition is changed and is
shifted towards light materials such aluminum and polymeric constituents. As mentioned by Zoboli
et al., in 1965 the European car contained around 82 % ferrous and non-ferrous metals (2 %
aluminum) and 2 % plastics of total weight. In mid-1980s, the content of ferrous and non-ferrous
metals averaged 74-75 % (with 4.5 % aluminum) and plastics were estimated at 8-10 % of total
weight. Use of lighter materials (aluminum and plastics) allowed to fuel economy and reducing of
the gas emissions to the atmosphere. It is believed that 100 kg weight reduction of the vehicle
results in the fuel saving of about 0.7 liter/100 km. However, introducing of lighter materials to the
vehicles is father to balance their weight increase by adding other comfortable and safety parts.
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The average composition of the EU car production in 1998 is illustrated in Figure 3. It clearly
shows the increase of the aluminum content (≈ 8 %) in the total car weight. Ferrous and other non-
ferrous metals (Zn, Cu, Mg and Pb) constitute about 67.5 %. This figure also depicts the plastics
used in average cars (≈ 9.3 %) their repartition in the car body and some major type of plastic used
(PUR, PP, PVC etc).
Figure 3 – Material Used in the European Union Car Production 1998.
Taking into account that the average lifespan of a car in use is roughly between 12 and 15 years, the
composition of the car represented in Figure 3 will be reflected to the ELV to be recycled next
decade in EU countries. Similarly, ELV arise in the recycling chain today are manufactured in
An overall schema including the vehicles’ paths starting from automakers up to end-disposal of
the shredder residue is drawn in Figure 4. The last car-owners (i.e. users) are the starting point for
ELV chain. After de-registered vehicles, the users can deliver their old car to the dealers and/or to
used car dealers. The last, in turn, deliver the used car to the collector/dismantlers. The
deregistration of used cars can be done by users, dealers, collectors and/or dismantlers depending on
the county rules.
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About 8 to 9 million ELV per year have to be treated in the EU countries. But, as noted by Zoboli et
al. the number of ELV could be less than official figure. This is to the fact that significant export
flows of ELV as second-hand cars are estimated from EU countries towards non-EU countries
(Eastern Europe, former USSR and North Africa). Higher profits to sell these used cars in
comparison with their uses as spare-parts and materials in the EU can explain this phenomenon.
Collecting and dismantling companies focus their work in car dismantling taking out valuable
spare-parts and removal of other car constituents (engines, batteries, oils and fuels, airbags,…). The
activity of these companies is very important for achieving reduction of ELV waste amount.
However, the dismantlers are small companies, which are mostly interested by the ELV parts that
are suitable for the reuse, recycling or sale. Depollution of the ELV is often improperly made
increasing the amount and toxicity of ELV waste. After dismantling, the left part of ELV, so called
“hulks”, goes to be proceeded by shredding companies.
The hulks are shredded and the obtained materials undergo a series of mechanical and physical
separations in order to recover the ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The residual of the shredding
process, the automobile shredder residues ‘ASR’ represents about 20 – 25 % of the ELV weight. Its
average composition is given in Figure 4.
With a recyclable rate of 75-80 %, the ELV seems to be the most recyclable product. It is higher
than that of simpler products such as glass containers, newspapers and/or aluminum beverage
cans. On may emphasis that a passenger car contains about 15,000 parts.
Figure 4 – Disposal Route for End-of-Life Vehicles.
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The ASR is the weak point of the recycling of ELV not only in EU but also in whole word
automobile industry. The quantity of ASR generated per year in EU countries is about 2 millions
tones. In fact, it represents less than 1 % of the total waste generated in EU. But, the ASR is toxic
enough to be classified as hazardous waste in many countries. One may note that the ASR could be
considered as energy source as it contains more than 70 % as combustible matter (see Figure 4).
Two options will be considered for the ASR : Recycling/recovery and waste disposal. Recycling
belongs above all to industrial activities. Consequently, it is based on a proven technology and in
the economic issue. Although, there were many researches (physical separation, incineration,
pyrolysis, composite materials etc.), it seems that the landfill of ASR was the most appropriate
As shown by Table I, the cost for the ASR landfill is different in the selected countries. ASR
disposal cost in Germany is at least two times higher than in United Kingdom. The high cost of
disposal to landfill was one of the driving forces that encourage the diversion of ASR from waste
disposal towards more eco-efficient treatments. Shredder companies in Germany are ultimately
responsible for reducing ASR and also responsible for the environmental damage resulting from
landiffing of ASR. Environmental policies of German automobile industry are very attractive and
they are considered as a model for the future approach of the automobile stakeholders to minimize
vehicle life-cycle environmental impacts. Tight regulations in Germany for the ELV waste may be
explained, among other factors, by the important role of the automobile industry in the country
FUTURE APPROACH FOR ELV RECYCLING
There were considerable national policies and voluntary agreements of major companies of
automobile manufactures concerning the whole life environmental impact of vehicles. At end
–1999, 10 EU member countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands,
Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) had specific regulations and/or industrial
voluntary agreements addressing ELV. These countries represent a share of almost 96 % of ELV
amount estimated in the EU.
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Table I - ASR Landfill Costs in Different Countries
Country Cost (US$ per tone)
Denmark 70 - 110
France 40 - 60
Germany 60 - 170
Italy 75 - 80
Netherlands 70 - 90
Spain 20 - 60
Sweden 90 - 100
United Kingdom 30 - 35
Eastern European countries
Poland 25 - 30
Czech Republic 30
Japan 135 - 160
United States 50 - 60
South Africa 25 - 40
The directive of European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 is a logic
sequence of former national policies and voluntary agreements. It was aimed to harmonize these
existing rules and to push the EU governments and automobile industry to comply fully with the
directive and to translate its key requirements into national law. The essential part of this directive
known as EVL directive is given below (article 7). The ultimate goal of this directive is to put only
5 % of EVL residues (ASR) into landfills.
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1. Member States shall take the necessary measures to encourage the reuse of components which
are suitable for reuse, the recovery of components which cannot be reused and the giving of
preference to recycling when environmentally viable, without prejudice to requirements
regarding the safety of vehicles and environmental requirements such as air emissions and
2. Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the following targets are
attained by economic operators:
(a) no later than 1 January 2006, for all end-of life vehicles, the reuse and recovery shall be
increased to a minimum of 85 % by an average weight per vehicle and year. Within the same
time limit the reuse and recycling shall be increased to a minimum of 80 % by an average
weight per vehicle and year; for vehicles produced before 1 January 1980, Member States may
lay down lower targets, but not lower than 75 % for reuse and recovery and not lower than 70
% for reuse and recycling. Member States making use of this subparagraph shall inform the
Commission and the other Member States of the reasons therefore;
(b) no later than 1 January 2015, for all end-of life vehicles, the reuse and recovery shall be
increased to a minimum of 95 % by an average weight per vehicle and year. Within the
same time limit, the re-use and recycling shall be increased to a minimum of 85 % by an
average weight per vehicle and year.
Waste prevention, re-use, recycling and recovery of the ELV constituents so as to reduce the ASR
waste disposal are the objectives of the EU directive. A schematic representations of the actors
implicated on the ELV chain, according to EU directive, is given in Figure in Figure 5. The main
actor is the producer (automaker). Producer means the vehicle manufacturer or the professional
importer of a vehicle into a Member State of EU. The producer is a hinge between upstream
(supplier) and downstream of the ELV chain (the collector, dismantler and shredder). On the other
hand, collaboration between collector, dismantler and shredder are necessary to meet successfully
the directive goals.
The vehicle produced has to assure, at least, the following goals : (i) low energy consumption, (ii)
easy dismantling,(iii) suitable recycling, (iv) less toxic metals (Figure 5). To fulfill these goals, the
producer has to know the technical and economical facilities, recyclability rate and efficiencies
level of the downstream ELV chain. On the other hand, the producer will provide the dismantling
information for each new type of new vehicle put on the market. Concept and design of vehicle
appropriate for dismantling, recycling, re-use and free of some hazardous substances (Pb, Hg, Cd
and Cr(VI)) will have a significant impact on the closed cooperation of the supplier-producer chain.
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Figure 5 – Major Steps for ELV Recycling according to EU directive.
The directive required that the ELV collector and dismantler have to be certified (licensed). There
are significant increases of number of licensed dismantler in the European Union. The figures
exceeded 1000 licensed enterprises per country in the in the 5 bigger producers of vehicles in the
EU. The dismantler role is the removal for sale of re-usable parts such as engines, transmissions,
gearboxes, body parts etc. According to the ELV directive, the car depollution becomes an
important task of dismantler business. This involves the draining of liquids and the removal of
environmentally harmful constituents such as the battery. Furthermore, they are certificated for
destruction of the special waste issued from the depollution (see Figure 5). These tasks achieved by
dismantler will facilitate the subsequent shredding of hulk and will reduce the ASR generated by
the shredder operators.
Steps of shredder include dismantling of small part for recycling, hulk shredding, ferrous and non-
ferrous metal separation. Tendency will be to return the separated materials to automaker and to use
them for the production of the same components from which they are issued. Energy recovery from
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combustible parts of ELV is also performed by putting them instead of fossil fuels in industrial
operators such as cement plant. The last part, ELV waste will go to landfill after a strict waste
control. This will be material for which there is not justification for the recovery.
Table II – Automobile Recycling Law in Japan and ELV Directive in EU
Japan (Automobile Recycling Law) EU (ELV Directive)
Schedule Promulgated July 2002, to enter effect
by January 2005 Effective from October 2000, legislation
enacted in EU member states in 2002
Four-wheeled passenger cars and
(including everything from mini-cars to
large trucks and buses)
Passenger cars with seating capacity of 9
or under and commercial vehicles with
gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tons or
• Collection and disposal of
fluorocarbons and airbags
• Collection and recycling of shredder
• Setting and publication of user
• Design and manufacture of car
models well considered about
environment and recycling
• Establishment of ELV collection and
From July 1, 2002: Newly registered
From January 1, 2007: All ELVs
• Prohibition of use of hazardous
substances (lead, mercury, cadmium,
Covering all vehicles sold from
July 1, 2003
• Recyclability rate 95 % or more
Costs Deposited by users (managed by fund
New vehicles: Deposited at time of sale
Old vehicles: Deposited at time of
All or most of cost borne by car
(depending on country)
In the sense of the economy globalization, it seems that the goals of EU directives are becoming a
sensitive issue for worldwide vehicle production. The regulatory approach for automobile recycling
in Japan is compared with the EU directive in Table II. It is clear that most of the selected items
(schedule, car manufacture’s obligations, costs,…) are close similar. In both cases, car manufacture
has an essential role in the infrastructure system of waste prevention, collection and treatment of
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The recycling of end-of-life vehicles today in the European Union, in most cases, is limited by
about 75 % covering essentially the metallic parts. The rest, known as ASR, is generally lanfilled
that represents a real threat for the environment.
The European union directive regarding to ELV burdens aims to meet the environmental challenges
and sustainable development by decreasing the amount of ASR to 5 % in 2015. Waste prevention
and waste minimization by re-use, recycling and recovery of the ELV constituents are the most
important goals of this directive.
The car producer will be the main actor for the overall chain of the ELV treatment. Its cooperation
with downstream of the ELV chain (the collector, dismantler and shredder) and with supplier will
lead to changes in the traditional manufacture of vehicle as well as to the existing ELV recycling
. Anonymous, “Industry as a Partner for Sustainable Development, Automotive Report”, ACEA,
JAMA and AAM, Published in the UK, 2002.
. Web Site : http//www.acea.be/ACEA/index.html, Loaded in 04/2003
. R. Zoboli, G. Barbiroli, R. Leoncini, M. Mazzanti, and S. Montresor, "Regulation and
Innovation in the Area of End-of-Life Vehicles" Ed. by F. Leone, IDSE-CNR, Milan, Italy,
. Web Site : http://www.apme.org, Loaded in 04/2003.
. Web Site : http://www.toyota-europe.com, Loaded in 04/2003.
. K. Bellmann and A. Khare, “European Response to Issues in Recycling Car Plastics”,
Technovation, 19, 1999, pp. 721-734.
. Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 September 2000 on
end-of life vehicles. Official Journal of the European Communities, 21.10.2000.
. Anonymous, “Mitsubishi Motors Environmental Sustainability Report 2002”, Published in
Tokyo, Japan, October 2002.