Automobile recycling on the threshold of a new era

BMW i3 (Photo: ICM)

Brussels — At the 14th International Automobile Recycling Congress (IARC 2014) in Brussels, the industry painted a new picture of the future of sustainable automobile production and recycling. New regulations at EU level as well as innovations in the field of carmaking are leading to major changes in the recycling of numerous materials.

From 19 to 21 March 2014, the automobile recycling industry came together at the 14th International Automobile Recycling Congress (IARC 2014). Representatives of the major recycling companies, car manufacturers, authorities and researchers discussed how the industry can – and indeed must – rise to meet the challenges of upcoming new regulations and changing trends in carmaking. New energy sources and drive systems also demand innovative, sustainable recycling processes. The increasing electrification of drive assemblies in cars calls for technologies capable of recycling new types of manufacturing materials and electric drive components when dismantling the vehicles at the end of their life cycles. The process produces various metal compounds and electronic wastes, which can then be recovered and sold to a new market to generate added value. “Business with rare metals will reach new dimensions with the paradigm shift to renewable sources of energy,” says Roger Burri, Manager of Air Mercury AG, a company that specialises in reusing metals obtained from recycling processes.

E-mobility will be the buzzword of the future, Olivier François, Vice Chairman of the IARC Steering Committee, is also convinced. How can we replace our limited supplies of fossil fuels in the medium term, and how can we generally reduce the consumption of and the demand for energy in society?

In his speech, Peter Kronschnabl, President and CEO of BMW in Belgium and Luxembourg, explained ways of utilising new materials in the field of automotive manufacture and the transformation that is leading to the use of new energy systems. He even brought along his favourite example for test drives – the BMW i3. Powered by an emission-free electric motor, the BMW i3 provides urban mobility wherever it is really important: such as in city centres that have long since introduced driving restrictions for certain types of vehicle. New high-voltage lithium-ion batteries enable electric vehicles to cover greater distances without refuelling, but also raise new questions about the end-of-life disposal of their components. In this field, the industry still needs to develop suitable solutions, especially since the EU is introducing new regulations that set tougher standards for vehicle recycling. With the new End of Life Vehicles Directive (ELV), as of 1 January 2015 the EU requires that 85 per cent of a car’s components are either recycled or reused in the production process – and that 95 per cent of the production materials are recovered in the recycling process and disposed of professionally. However, the question of whether and, in particular, how these targets and specifications can be implemented, was not conclusively answered at the IARC.

A total of 220 participants and experts were in Brussels to attend this year’s congress – and 18 companies presented themselves and their services. In addition to various invited speakers, visits to companies in France, Belgium and the Netherlands were on the agenda, as were various networking functions and seminars specifically designed for exchanging know-how.

Jeanette Duttlinger, organiser of the IARC, is delighted at the high number of attendees and exhibiting companies. “The great popularity of the event shows us that the topic of automobile recycling will continue to grow in importance in the future,” says Jeanette Duttlinger.

The next International Automobile Recycling Congress will be held in Berlin from 25 to 27 March 2015.

Further information:

Source: ICM AG