ELV(End of life vehicles): In the past few years, a trend has been established, where plastics are considered a preferred material choice in designing and making complex consumer products, such as automobiles. The reason is plastics possess certain unique characteristics. The increasing use of plastics shifts the environmental burden from the life cycle phase to the treatment phase that is the end of life cycle phase.
ELV: Why plastics are used in cars?
Special Characteristics of Plastics:
Due to advancements in polymers, today’s plastics have revolutionized the automobile design. It is worth noting that different components of a car have specific requirements e.g. a seatbelt needs to be strong but flexible. This means that their constituents need certain specific characteristics such as elasticity etc.
Make car more Eco-friendly:
Due to substantially lighter automobile components, lightweight vehicles give better gas mileage, resulting in lower fuel consumption. A recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study estimates that the reduction of around 10% in weight results in a 3% to 7% improvement in fuel efficiency.
Weight is the Main Concern:
With ever-increasing safety-standards that need to be met, car weights are constantly increasing. Cars are getting more efficient, with smaller engines, so the cars need to be as light as possible therefore making as many weight savings in as many areas as possible is a major reason here.
Greater Freedom in Design:
Automobile design engineers face many constrictions when designing with metal. Use of Plastics allows auto engineers in designing & placing components with more ease and also allows them to integrate several complex parts into a single piece.
Then There is Cost Issue(ELV)
Manufacturing cast alloy products, or steel products, just isn’t as cost-effective as it used to be. Metals are more expensive than plastics, therefore, choosing plastics for auto body parts allows a manufacturer to adopt modular assembly practices at lower production costs.
While we all witness the existence of technology to achieve various purposes, the feasibility of those technologies is bounded by economical and sometimes technological restraints, including lack of market for recyclates, lack of cost-effective recovery process.
Moreover, it has been found that there is an information gap between manufacturers, consumers, and end-of-life facility operators. For these reasons, ELV plastics are more likely to eventually end up landfills.
Plastics recycling in the automotive industry is complex and cumbersome. Even after recycling, it often ends up landfilling because it cannot actually be physically recovered.
Directive 2000/53/EC (Directive 2000/53/EC – the “ELV Directive”), a legislation in Europe, on end-of-life vehicles takes care that dismantling and recycling of ELVs are more environmentally friendly.
The End of Life Vehicles Directive concerns the end of life phase of automotive products. Every year automobiles which have reached the end of their lifecycle create about 8 to 9 million tonnes of waste in the EU.
The directive keeps its scope limited to passenger cars M1 and light commercial vehicles N1. It pressurizes producers to manufacture new vehicles, which are free from hazardous substances (in particular lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium), thus promoting the reuse, recyclability, and recovery of waste vehicles).
Elements of ELV Directive
The directive concerns the life cycle as well as the treatment phase of automobiles. In short, directive aims at the following:
- Monitoring the of the use of some heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium
- Collection of vehicles at suitable treatment facilities
- De-pollution of fluids and specific components
- Marking and Coding information on parts
- collecting information for consumers and organizations responsible for treatment
Thus the directive puts the responsibilities on four major stakeholders, the producer, the recycling industry, the last holder and the authorities.