End-of-life vehicles are a source of spare parts but also subject to recycling of the remaining material. Only in the USA approx. 12 – 15 million vehicles get…Read more
End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Recycling
What are end-of-life vehicles?
End-of-Life Vehicles are automotive products that have reached the end of their useful life. Their components are now considered waste and can only be discarded or used for recycling. End-of-life vehicles generate about 7-8 million tons of waste each year in the EU.
There are two categories of ELVs:
- Natural ELVs which have reached the end of their life technically or economically
- Premature ELVs which are new cars resulting from accident write-offs
When end-of-life vehicles are not adequately managed, they can cause environmental problems, losing millions of tonnes of materials. The Directive on end-of-life vehicles sets clear goals for ELVs and their components. It also prohibits hazardous substances when manufacturing new vehicles except in defined exemptions when there are no alternatives.
The ELV Directive sets clear goals for their reuse, recycling, and recovery and aims for the following:
- Prevent waste from end-of-life vehicles and their components
- Improve the environmental performance of all economic operators involved in the life-cycle of vehicles
End-of-life vehicles recycling process
The recycling flow of ELVs differs per country, but it turns out to be almost identical in many countries, regardless of a legislative management system. The process of ELV recycling starts with dismantling. At this point, components containing hazardous substances such as lead batteries and mechanical oils are collected first, and then recyclable materials for secondary use, including engines, tires, and bumpers.
Some of the specifics do differ per county; for example, in Japan, the collection of refrigerant gases and airbags is legally mandated. In the US, voluntary collection of mercury components is operated during the dismantling stage. In China, components collected at the dismantlers are often recycled as secondary products.
The components left after the dismantling process are put into shredders. The shredded materials are separated by air classifier, and ASR, Automobile Shredding Residues (Light) is taken out. Subsequently, irons and non-ferrous metals are separated by magnetic separators. The remnants of these processes are ASR (Heavy).
What can't be recycled?
Most people are aware that the metal in a car can be recycled, but, apart from metal, a car exists of many more parts. Although it may be surprising, a large majority of most vehicles' components and chassis can be recycled from cars, providing environmentally friendly gains and reducing landfills. The parts that can't be recycled can often be reused in a different capacity, meaning that with the exemplary service, essentially none of the unwanted vehicles will go to waste.
Some parts that can be recycled may seem obvious, but here are some of the less obvious parts:
- Much more
The metal parts of cars produce a vast amount of recycled steel each year, which can be put back into manufacturing to increase efficiency. This not only helps reduce wastage and the need to mine for new steel, but it also costs less and helps keep the price of certain goods lower.
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