The End-of-life Vehicle:
Position in the EU


There is general recognition in the EU that it is necessary to improve the use of resources of all types, one of which is the increasing scarcity of landfill sites, particularly among the more populous regions. This is exacerbated by the increasingly tough regulations on what may be dumped where. The European authorities therefore determined to reduce the amount of waste, and the automotive industry has been selected as an area of major attention, this despite the fact that, with an average recycling rate of 75%, the car was already the most recycled complex product in the EU.


In 1997, the European Commission made a proposal for a directive on the disposal of end-of-life vehicles. The proposal covered 3 areas:

  1. The original vehicle manufacturer was to be responsible for taking back the vehicle at the end of its life.
  2. Disposal to landfill of certain specific hazardous substances (e.g. heavy metals) was to be reduced virtually to zero.
  3. Targets (by weight fraction) were set for increased levels of material recovery, and most recovered material had to be either re-used or recycled, with only a small fraction being permitted to be reprocessed for energy recovery. The specific targets were:
    • By 1 Jan 2005: 85% to be recovered (including max 5% to energy recovery)
    • By 1 Jan 2015: 95% to be recovered (including max 10% to energy recovery)

Not surprisingly, the industry objected to (a), as the cost would inevitably have to be added to the price of new vehicles. Apart from matters of fine detail, it had no problem with (b). However, the biggest objection was to (c), as the recycling targets would apply to all vehicles, however old, many of which would have been designed and manufactured long before the legislation was even thought of; also, the severe restrictions on energy recovery would inhibit the increased use of plastics in the effort towards lighter vehicles. A major lobbying campaign was therefore mounted, which caused numerous delays and eventually resulted in the activation of the 'conciliation procedure'.

Present position

After some 3 years of activity, on 18 September 2000, the European Parliament passed a directive that makes some small concessions towards the industry:

  • The date for achieving an 85% target is delayed by 1 year, to 1 Jan 2006
  • For vehicles made (not designed) before 1 Jan 1990, member states may permit a recycling target of 75% (including max 5% to energy recovery)

The industry is unlikely to be satisfied with this outcome, but it is now highly unlikely that any further concessions will be forthcoming.

Relevant bullet items from Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council

18 September 2000 on end-of life vehicles

The directive: -

  • Restricts the use of certain heavy metals in new vehicles from 1 July 2003.
  • Introduces a 'certificate of destruction' for scrapped vehicles.
  • Requires producers to mark certain vehicle components to aid recycling.
  • Requires producers to make available dismantling information in respect of new vehicles.
  • States that producers must provide free take back for vehicles put on the market from 1 July 2002, if such vehicles have a negative value when scrapped.
  • Requires that ELVs can only be scrapped ('treated') by authorised treatment facilities, which must meet tightened environmental standards.

The ELV Directive became effective 1st July 2003

This Directive severely restricts the use of Lead (Pb), Mercury (Hg), Cadmium (Cd) and Hexavalent chromium (Cr 6+).

ELV Initial Exemptions

Lead as an alloying element

  • Steel containing up to 0.35% lead by weight
  • Aluminium containing up to 0.4% lead by weight
  • Aluminium (wheel rims, engine parts and window levers) containing up to 4% lead by weight
  • Copper alloy containing up to 4% lead by weight
  • Lead/bronze bearing shells and bushes

Lead and lead in components

  • Batteries
  • Coating inside petrol tanks
  • Vibration dampers
  • Vulcanising agent for high pressure or fuel hoses
  • Stabiliser in protective paints
  • Solder in electronic circuit boards and other applications

Hexavalent chromium

  • Corrosion protective coating (max 2g per vehicle)


  • Bulbs and instrument panel displays

Requirements for Whole Vehicle Recyclability

  • 85% Re-use and energy recovery in 2006
  • 95% Re-use and energy recovery in 2015

Spare Parts

Taking some Member State interpretations, OEMs may not be able to sell spare parts for some applications, as from July 2003.

The Tier 1 Supplier must assign application codes for restricted substances.