European Parliament resists efforts to water down car recycling plans

Despite some confusion about when car manufacturers will begin recovering and recycling vehicles, a vote in the European Parliament has confirmed that manufacturers and not consumers will be responsible for picking up most, if not all, of the cost.

MEPs resisted pressure by two German MEPs to spread the cost of vehicle recycling between consumers, governments and car manufacturers. The vote on the second reading of the Draft End-of-Life Vehicles Directive by the European Parliament had been preceded by much speculation and argument over whether manufacturers have been exaggerating the cost of vehicle recycling (see related story). In the final days prior to the vote German Green MEPs accused their countrymen – particularly Karl-Heinz Florenz and Bernd Lange, the two MEPs tabling amendments that would have reduced producer responsibility – of doing everything in their power to destroy the nascent directive in order to protect the German car manufacturing industry (see related story).

Environmentalists and Green Party MEPs are claiming the vote as a victory, primarily because producer responsibility has not been significantly diluted.

Nevertheless, car manufacturers secured some concessions. One amendment appears to delay producer responsibility for recovery and recycling by 18 months. That would push it into the middle of 2002. But elsewhere in the text of the draft directive the original January 2001 entry into force is mentioned.

“It’s completely ambiguous and unclear,” Theirry Proteau of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) told edie.

MEPs also appear to have agreed a 10-year delay in banning the presence of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium in new cars.

Hotly contested from the outset by car manufacturers, the Draft End-of-Life Vehicles Directive now goes back to the Council of Ministers. If EU Environment Ministers fail to agree with the Parliament’s version of the text, or if the Commission resists some of the changes made, then ‘conciliation’ talks will be necessary. The ACEA believes conciliation talks may be lengthy. The EC would like a quicker agreement so that the 2006 deadline for 85% recycling of end-of-life cars can be met without difficulty.

  • The EU hopes to build on the success of last year’s Car-Free Day, which took place in September in French and Italian cities. Environment members from many EU member states gathered in Brussels on 4 February to announce European Car-Free Day 2000, which will take place on 22 September. Activities – and restrictions on private motor traffic in city centres – will remind people that public transport, cycling and walking are healthier and greener options for short journeys.

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