Abandoned Cars Mar03

Over the past few months I have noticed a number of cars abandoned in our countryside, especially in Essex and Suffolk. It seems that more and more people are now leaving their unwanted cars on country lanes, in ditches, on farmland and even in public car parks hoping that the council will remove, scrap and dispose of them.

Why should the council be landed with this responsibility and bear the cost of disposal of citizens' private assets? Why should innocent law abiding citizens pay higher rates to their Council for those who have chosen to be irresponsible? How can we ensure that every car owner acts responsibly and arranges for appropriate disposal without littering our countryside?

About 1.8m cars are discarded every year in Britain. The UK disposal amounts to 1.8m tons of metallic waste and about 0.4m tons of non-metallic waste (tyres, plastic, foam, fabric) that ends up in landfills. Approximately 75% of the raw materials (mainly metals) can be recycled, reused or recovered whilst the remaining 25% (mainly plastics) require disposal.

The EU legislation for End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of EU Ministers in September 2000 as Directive 2000/53/EC and should have been in place in the UK by April 2002. The Directive requires:- 

  1. Manufacturers of vehicles and components to re-design products to reduce/ eliminate the use of hazardous substances (cadmium, lead, mercury) and facilitate recycling and disposal.
  2. Member States to set up collection and disposal of ELVs through Approved Treatment Facilities (ATFs) as well as a system of deregistration so that a “Certificate of Destruction” can be used to verify appropriate disposal.

The EU envisages that the manufacturer of the vehicle will meet all or a significant part of the cost of disposal from 1st January 2007 and hopes that its Directive will increase the rate of re-use/recovery of metals to 85% by July 2006 and 95% by July 2015, allowing lower targets for vehicles manufactured before 1st January 1980.

The EU Directive will have a crippling effect on our scrap car industry as dealers, especially the smaller family owned businesses, will either have to invest in new plant for crushing and recycling or simply close! Already the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is charging them an annual fee of £1000 for inspection. It will require car manufacturers to pay around £200 million each year for car disposals for the 1.8m cars scrapped in the UK alone. This increase in their costs will inevitably be passed on to car buyers in the form of higher prices!

The UK requires the final owner of the ELV to bear the cost of delivery until July 2007. The re-use, recovery and disposal will be managed by ATFs supervised by the EPA. ATFs may be contracted to more than one manufacturer of vehicles who will re-imburse disposal and submit returns of collection and disposal of their branded ELVs to the EPA.

This EU Directive is yet another example of complex legislation from a bureaucracy gone mad. We need legislation that neither burdens the manufacturer/scrap dealer nor the end user of the vehicle in order to facilitate enforcement. Only then can we ensure that people will no longer need to abandon their old vehicles and litter our countryside.