Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence



  1.  Ultimately the End of Life Vehicles Directive (ELV Directive) will assist the responsible treatment of old scrap cars by ensuring that adequate systems will be available for the proper treatment and de-pollution of cars and can deliver the recycling targets.

  2.  A long-term environmental benefit of the ELV directive is that it makes provision to ban the use of hazardous substances in the manufacture of new cars, with exemptions for certain specific applications eg uses of lead. In time, cars arising as ELVs from these requirements will contain fewer hazardous wastes requiring treatment and/or disposal.

  3.  In due course, through arrangements yet to be put in place, full producer responsibility will be effected by requiring the producer to incorporate the ELV costs of dealing with new cars that are eventually scrapped into the price of the vehicle. The treatment costs of existing ELVs, arising as waste over the next few years, will be met by the last owner. Hence while not the main thrust of the Directive, the Agency has stated its concern that adequate consideration should be given to resolving the potential problem of abandoned vehicles. Government has recognised this as an issue.

  4.  There is an interaction with the Hazardous Waste Directive. In the EU, ELVs are classified as hazardous waste as a result of the revised hazardous waste list, which became effective at EU level on 1 January 2002. They will not be subject to UK special waste controls on their movement and for waste licensing until Government makes appropriate implementing legislation (they are not special waste under current regulations). When ELVs are classified as hazardous facilities accepting them will have to comply with the stricter requirements of waste management licensing for hazardous waste facilities and consignment as hazardous waste. This could exacerbate the issue of car abandonment to avoid likely costs to the last owner of scrapping it.

  5.  The due date for transposition of the ELV directive is 21 April 2002. Government has decided that the two main elements of the legislation—i) permitting of ELV treatment plants and ii) the producer responsibility aspects, will be kept separate and therefore subject to different consultation programme schedules.

  6.  DEFRA is in the lead for the permitting and DTI for producer responsibility. It is expected that there will be consultation on both of these in the Summer of 2002, and for Regulations in the Autumn. We do not have a timetable available for either set of Regulations. Our understanding is that some of the requirements for implementing ELV directive should be completed by late 2002 and both sets of regulations will most probably be in force by Summer 2003.


  7.  The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive is still passing through its negotiation stages in Europe. The Council of Ministers and European Parliament are yet to conclude this process. It is expected to be October 2002 at the earliest before the Directive has passed through all the necessary steps to become European law.

  8.  The Directive seeks to ensure that end-of-life electronic equipment is recycled. It is expected to contain targets for collection and recycling. Member States will have to ensure that separate collection schemes are set up that allow WEEE from private householders to be collected at no charge to the final holder. Responsibility for historical waste (ie products placed on the market before the directive is adopted) is to be shared by all existing producers.

  9.  The new EU Hazardous Waste List impacts on WEEE. This identifies wastes from electrical and electronic equipment containing hazardous components as hazardous waste. This includes, for example, accumulators and batteries, mercury switches, glass from cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and other "activated glass". CRTs would mean television tubes and computer monitors.

  10.  When the revised Hazardous Waste List is implemented CRTs in televisions, computers, etc from commercial and industrial units would need to be treated as hazardous waste.

  11.  For waste recovery operations: reclassifying some WEEE as hazardous waste would mean that it would need to be consigned, with appropriate notification, only to facilities authorised to treat hazardous waste. Any operation involving export for recycling of hazardous waste to countries that are outside the OECD area will not be possible as it would be in breach of the Basel Convention, to which the UK is a party. Export to another OECD or EU country would be acceptable—as long as it is for genuine recovery and not disposal. This would be subject to notification under the EU Waste Shipments Regulation.

  12.  For disposal operations by landfill under the Landfill Directive, hazardous WEEE will need to be consigned to either a suitable hazardous waste landfill (or special cell of a non-hazardous landfill) or, if treated, to a non-hazardous waste landfill meeting the waste acceptance criteria.

  13.  For hazardous WEEE from households—this is currently not covered by the Hazardous Waste Directive as it would be regarded as household waste and exempted from the provisions of the HWD (just asbestos from households is "special" waste by current UK Regulations). Under the Landfill Directive domestic televisions for example, provided they are collected together with other household waste, could be disposed of at landfill sites designated to accept municipal waste. But the new Hazardous Waste List identifies certain separately collected fractions of household waste as hazardous. When this is brought into force, then domestic televisions would need to be treated as hazardous waste.

  14.  Local authorities would be able to deal with CRTs/TVs with their collection services but only from household sources. Householders can continue to deliver to local authority provided ("CA") sites at least until the WEEE directive is implemented in UK Regulations (perhaps mid-2004) and probably after that.

  15.  In parallel with the WEEE directive is the proposal for a directive on the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical & electronic waste (RoHS). This proposal is intended to achieve the phase out of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, as well as the brominated flame retardants PBB and PBDEs, from use in new electrical and electronic equipment by 1 January 2008.

Environment Agency

8 July 2002

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