Skip to main content

European Recycling Conference 2023: Car recycling and other essentials to drive circularity in the automotive sector

29 September 2023

This year’s special edition of the European Recycling Conference cast a spotlight on the future of car recycling, considering the European Commission’s recently proposed End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) Regulation, a game-changer for the automotive industry. Hosted by EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation in collaboration with its Belgian member, Denuo, the conference took place at De Warande in Brussels and gathered over 150 participants. High-level EU officials and leading industry experts delved into the key components of the proposed regulation impacting the recycling industry and discussed ways to put circularity at the core of EU’s plans.

To kick-off the event, Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries emphasised that the automotive sector is a powerhouse for the EU economy and is currently undergoing a vital transition. “This green transition will not only be determined by the historic switch to electric power, but also by moving to the next resource-efficiency level,” the Commissioner noted.

Mattia Pellegrini, the Commission’s Head of Unit, From Waste to Resources (DG Environment), provided a detailed insight into the legislative proposal. This included discussing circularity requirements, combatting illegal exports and the importance of integrating recycled materials in the manufacturing of new vehicles. An insightful panel discussion followed, featuring Olivier François, EuRIC President, Ragnar Crona, Volvo Cars’ circular economy manager, Poul Steen Rasmussen, CEO of Genan and President of EuRIC’s Mechanical Tyre Recycling (MTR) Branch, Kris Van der Plas, Head of Public Affairs at LKQ Europe and Jaco Huisman, Policy Officer for ELVs at the Commission’s DG Environment.

Olivier François, EuRIC President strongly welcomed the proposed recycled content targets, which are overly important to pull the demand for plastics recycling, as he stressed. He also highlighted that all the targets of the ELV Directive set in 2000 were achieved on time in 2015. “We, as the recycling industry, are very proud to achieve these targets through our own means. However, the additional responsibility granted by the proposed ELV Regulation through the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes will have to incentivise an effective cooperation with carmakers. If not, achieving some of the ambitious objectives set by the proposed Regulation will be out of reach. This requires a strong collegiality at the Board of future collective EPR schemes”, the EuRIC President highlighted.

Ragnar Crona, Manager of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars highlighted that sustainability has become equally important to safety for the company in the automotive industry. "Circularity of vehicles has moved to the center of Volvo Cars’ purpose", he noted.

Poul Steen Rasmussen, CEO of Genan and President of EuRIC’s Mechanical Tyre Recycling (MTR) branch raised the points of focusing on ecodesign requirements, particularly in the context of tyre recycling, further adding that recyclers often face risks due to chemical legislation.

Kris Van der Plas, Head of Public Affairs at LKQ Europe underscored the transformative potential of remanufacturing, which is estimated to yield up to an 85% reduction in total energy usage and a remarkable 70% reduction in carbon emissions. We expect the global remanufacturing market to double between 2023 and 2030,” Van der Plas said.

We would like to thank all the speakers for this exclusive opportunity to pave the way for circularity in the automotive sector and all the participants who enriched the event with their questions. EuRIC remains committed to working with policymakers and the industry to champion sustainability in Europe.

You can find the event’s material (photographs, presentations) here.