The car industry is facing a protracted struggle over the next two years to head off tough proposals from Brussels on recycling.
A draft directive adopted earlier this month by the European Commission has set ambitious targets for vehicle recycling, to be phased in from 2005. Industries involved say the proposals would cost too much.
Last week trade groups for the plastics, rubber, and steel industries joined car manufacturers and vehicle breakers to sign a voluntary agreement aiming for a diluted set of recycling targets – the first move in a bid to negotiate with Brussels on what proportion of a scrapped vehicle will have to be recycled by the middle of the next decade.
The EU draft directive wants 80% by weight of a car scrapped in 2005 to be recycled, with a further 5% burned for energy recovery.
But new cars seeking regulatory approval in 2005 would have to meet the targets set for 10 years later: 85% by weight recyclable, with a further 10% combustible for energy recovery.
`The directive is too harsh. These are not realistic targets,’ said a British Plastics Federation spokesman.
About 75% by weight of today’s cars – mainly the steel body – is recycled. Only 0.4% of vehicle plastics are reused.
The agreement signed last week follows five years of talks between members of the Automotive Consortium on Disposal and Recovery. The Acord deal pledges to meet similar targets to those in the commission’s draft directive, but without differentiating between what must be recycled and what is burned.
`Brussels should relax the rules so that we can recover energy instead of having to recycle, which is more expensive,’ said Reg German, spokesman for the British Rubber Manufacturers’ Association.