More than 20 years have passed since the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive came into force in the EU and was subsequently transposed into UK regulation in 2003 and 2005. The regulation has been very successful and helped to address vehicle abandonment issues, ensured the phase out of hazardous substances (in particular lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium), and continues to promote the re-use, recyclability and recovery of end-of-life vehicles. The UK regulations ensure agreements
are in place to facilitate the acceptance of all qualifying end-of-life vehicles at authorised treatment facilities (ATFs), at no cost to the last owner, and with a Certificate of Destruction (CoD) issued.
However, there is some scope for improvement, in particular in tightening the vehicle deregistration system to ensure ELVs and their parts do not fall into the hands of illegal operators, undermining legitimate businesses. Also, the responsibility for meeting the ELV target achievement should be spread across the value chain to further improve performance. Both the European Commission and the UK are preparing to review their ELV legislation, with proposals expected in 2022.
In line with the ELV regulation requirements, vehicle manufacturer approved networks of ATFs achieved 85% re-use and recovery of materials from ELVs each year from 2006, when the requirement came into force. Since 2015, the industry has improved its performance by a further 10 percantage points to reach the 95% target. This performance means vehicles have one of the highest recycling rates of any product. This has been facilitated at the vehicle design stage, in accordance with the Reusability, Recyclability and Recoverability (RRR) directive, which requires any vehicle to be 95% recyclable, based on its materials composition.
In recent years, the battery technologies landscape has undergone significant change, particularly for EV batteries, and is expected to evolve. In recognition of this, both the European Commission and the UK have started the process of reviewing the applicable legislation.
In December 2020 the Commission published the draft regulation concerning batteries and waste batteries, which, when finalised, will be directly applicable in 27 Member States and Northern Ireland. Amid expectations of soaring demand, these proposals aim to address the environmental impacts of batteries and their social impacts.