Words - Industry - Gearing up for the ELV revolution


Gearing up for the ELV revolution

At arms’ length, preparations for full implementation of the ‘free take-back’ of end of life vehicles seem to be nothing short of perfect. However, John Chillingworth finds the elements of change for the recycling industry are much more than ‘skin-deep’.

It has been two years - and counting - since UK vehicle salvage and dismantling companies gained a ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ insight into the implications of EU directives, which were to be anglicised and steadily implemented under British Law.

Early in the process, the Department of Trade and Industry claimed that the ELV Regulations 2003 formalised the move toward modernisation of the ELV treatment and recycling sector, to be underpinned by vehicle manufacturers.

How the DTI became involved at all appears something of a mystery, when the European Union’s Environmental Directorate has talked directly to the UK Environment Agency and DEFRA for the past thirty years!

In fact, when attempting to establish a chain of ELV command with one civil servant, it was hinted that it was something dealt with by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and, therefore, the ‘three monkeys’ approach would be the best in the circumstances.

The DTI, however, was the epitome of courtesy when responding to a request for a progress report and answered with a carefully prepared statement of the obvious and information already in the public domain.

Such courtesy can be a great confidence builder, until the ministry responded to a key question – What happens if a vehicle manufacturer shuts down - and who pays for disposal of the brand?

The DTI’s current response is: If the badge is not taken over, responsibility can be ascribed to another VM, if there are good historical grounds. If no grounds for ascribing, the Regulations provide the possibility of a collective agreement with the industry, to deal with "orphan vehicles".

Next question -What about old marques? Who will deal with Ladas and Yugos, for example?

The DTI repeats: If no vehicle manufacturer declares responsibility for a marque, responsibility can be ascribed to a VM, if there are good historical grounds, etc. To many, the answers are not exactly grey areas, rather yawning credibility gaps!

In this day and age there is, of course, something noble about caring for the environment, but the much more alarming prospect is the concept of global warming.

It takes little imagination to visualise vehicle salvage and dismantlers as being front-line soldiers in the battle to save the planet. As a consequence, with the whole profile of business in that area about to change out of all recognition, there will be more losers than winners.

Devizes Reclamation Co. Limited, with the vision and financial muscle to take commercial advantage of the final segment of the ELV Directive, is already staking its claim to be amongst those Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATF), which will move into ‘fast-forward gear’ to meet the 1 January 2006 85% recycling target and to service the manufacturers’ free car take-back regulations in January 2007.

One of six companies in the Grist Group, the current pro-active profile of Devizes Reclamation Co. Limited is a shining example of its chairman’s common sense, ‘gut feeling’ approach to vehicle recycling.

Thirty-three years ago, Nigel Grist borrowed £100.00 and started collecting scrap metal. Today, with a turnover of millions, his group of companies now experience a 30% annual growth per annum on a regular basis.

Anticipating, early, the need to upgrade and reorganise its working area dedicated to end of life vehicle recycling, Devizes Reclamation was amongst the first to register as an Authorised Treatment Facility. When the national registration and licensing ‘window’ closes at the end of August, the true picture of end of life vehicle recycling after January 2007 will emerge.

Nigel Grist comments, “Because of the investment, registration and licensing fee are enormous, the new regulations are set to kill the small man in the business.”

“Even conforming to the requirements of the recently introduced hazardous waste regulations, part of which demands registration and warns of draconian fees for non-compliance, could create an insurmountable challenge to them,” he says.

In contrast to the small under-funded operators, the ‘spoils’ of change will go to those companies like Devizes Reclamation, which have anticipated and meticulously invested in their handling facilities and logistics.

Site Manager, Paul Crannis, one of the new breed of managers who will be in the ‘hot-seat’ when the new car take back regulations kick in, already presides over his scrupulously clean, concreted yard where ELV’s await initial treatment by the recently installed SEDA de-polluting plant, which safely discharges all hazardous waste from each vehicle.

He explained that after engine removal and recovery of all re-useable spare parts, the vehicle shells are crushed and bailed, using the company’s awesome new, Italian designed, LOLLINI R & M Logger.

Currently serving a catchment area, which covers North Wiltshire, Salisbury, Kennet, Bath and NE Somerset, when the national coverage of ATF’s is finalised, there is a possibility that the area will increase.

“Because the majority of manufacturers have already contracted to channel their ELV’s through Cartakeback Limited,” observed Nigel Grist, “it will be from them hat a substantial percentage of the 800 AVF companies in England and Wales will receive their allocation of vehicles for recycling.

Cartakeback, which aims to have 70% of vehicle manufacturers ‘on board’ by the time that the new ELV legislation becomes Law, was created as a result of eleven shredding companies making a collective decision to provide an efficient administrative service to both manufactures and ATF’s nationally.

The Ford Motor Company was the first manufacturer to sign up to the Cartakeback Limited administration system followed by the majority of other UK-based car makers.

Some, however, having invited Cartakeback and other shredding organisations to tender appear at the time of going to press to be sitting on their hands! They will not do so for much longer, because within days the Environment Agency will be closing the registration period and the threatened substantial fines could become a reality.

© Copyright John Chillingworth