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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 07:47 GMT 08:47 UK
Car recycling scheme stalled
old cars
Nine million cars are abandoned in Europe each year
Britain is being forced to explain to the EU why it has missed a deadline on implementing new rules on the recycling of old cars.

The European directive came into operation in April but the UK, like most other European Union countries, has failed to put it into practice.

More than two million cars reach the end of their working lives each year in Britain and the directive is designed to encourage their recycling.

The EU wants car manufacturers to take back their old vehicles free of charge and dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way - but as yet in the UK this has not happened.

Bear the brunt

And on Tuesday, the British Government is due to outline to the EU why little progress has been made.

The stalling is partly blamed on local authorities who have complained that the directive has already led to a rise in the number of abandoned cars.

Environmentalists say the problem could get even worse in 2007, when the End Of Life Vehicles Directive will become law in Britain.

Car makers are refusing to bear the brunt of the cost alone and want car owners and governments to chip in.


When it was first proposed it was an excellent directive... but it has been progressively watered down

Roger Higman, Friends of the Earth

They also want companies which break up old cars for spare parts to contribute.

The breakers' yards in turn argue the added cost would put them out of business and put the onus back on the manufacturers by arguing the bill should be footed by a levy on the sale of new cars.

The UK Government says it is taking time to look at all the options to get the process right.

Roger Higman from Friends of the Earth approves of the law in principle - but told the BBC that in practice, it could do more harm than good.

Landfill

"When it was first proposed, this was an excellent directive.

"It fulfilled the fundamental principle of making the motor industry responsible for the waste it created but in the process of its enactment it has been progressively watered down.

"They have delayed the target dates and given more exemptions in terms of materials used and as a result it is not going to do the job properly."

Christopher McGowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said he had sympathy with the UK Government as it was difficult to implement the legislation because no one body was prepared to foot the cost.

He added: "I guess the government is also concerned about having a re-run of the unsatisfactory fridge mountain."

It is estimated that nine million cars are discarded in Europe each year, of which, a quarter end up on landfill sites.

See also:

03 Feb 00 | Europe
23 Aug 00 | Scotland
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