ELV: What happens to our vehicles at the end of their life?

Have you ever wondered what happens to vehicles at the end of their life? Since January 2024, a new eco-organization must help consolidate the reuse sector.

At the end of their life, the vehicles pass through an ELV center, before going to a crusher. // PHOTO: Adobe Stock

Each year, around 1.3 million end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) reach the end of their life in France. They first pass through one of the 1,700 approved ELV centers in the territory. Professionals remove parts, mechanical parts and reusable bodywork elements. They also ensure complete depollution of the vehicle: tires, batteries, dangerous fluids, bumpers, tanks, exhaust pipes, etc. Then, the carcasses go to one of the 60 approved shredders in the national territory. After crushing, they separate the remaining materials (steel, plastics, etc.) to recycle them, incinerate them or landfill them.

The anti-waste law for a circular economy (Agec) provided for the establishment of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) sector, financed by automobile manufacturers. Created in January 2024, the Recycle my vehicle association is the first eco-organization in the end-of-life vehicle sector. It is a project launched by the International Automobile and Motorcycle Trade Union Chamber (Csiam) and its members, on behalf of producers of passenger cars, vans, two- or three-wheel motor vehicles and motor quadricycles. .

Priority to recycling and reuse of auto parts

European legislation imposes a reuse and recovery rate of 95% of vehicle weight, of which 85% must be reused or recycled and 10% recovered for energy. This includes reusing spare parts and recycling materials like metals, plastics, and glass. The parts that are still functional and safe are dismantled and sent to the second-hand market. Recovered materials (iron, steel, aluminum, etc.) make it possible to manufacture new products. Energy recovery concerns certain plastics or non-recyclable residues.

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The specifications of the REP sector provide for a collection objective of 65% in 2024 to 70% in 2028 for passenger cars and vans. Concerning the reuse of parts, the objective is to reach 8.5% in 2024 and 16% in 2028. For two or three-wheeled and motorized quadricycles, the parts reuse objective rises to 26% in 2024 and 40% in 2028.

Since January 1, 2017, consumers can purchase spare parts from approved ELV centers instead of new parts for the maintenance and repair of their vehicle. With new online sales platforms, like Careco and Back2Car, recycled auto parts are becoming accessible to everyone.

Fight against the illegal ELV sector

To improve the identification of approved ELV centers, Recycle my vehicle offers a map of its network of partner centers. “The purpose of setting up this REP sector is to improve the collection and processing performance of end-of-life vehicles, to develop the circular economy of vehicles and to fight more effectively against the illegal sector”, explains the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Fighting illegal networks is a priority. Because according to various estimates, between 300,000 and 500,000 ELVs escape legal depollution and recycling circuits each year. They go to cross-border countries, notably Belgium and Germany, where it is possible to pay for this waste in cash. A practice completely banned in France. The European Commission also presented in July 2023 a draft regulation aimed at strengthening the fight against this illegal sector by regulating exports of used vehicles.

The law is clear, recalls the ministry: “the owner of a vehicle at the end of its life must return it to an ELV center and […] the latter has the obligation to take it back free of charge, regardless of the make of the vehicle. This rule also applies to the handling of abandoned vehicles.



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