Lesson 2: Current situation in numbers, and technical basis

In this lesson, we will explore the current statistics related to end-of-life vehicles in the European Union and the technical basis for their treatment and disposal.

  1. Key Numbers Describing the Current Situation
  • In 2016, the European Union had 258 million registered passenger vehicles, all falling under the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive’s scope.
  • Additionally, approximately 90% of the 34 million registered trucks weighing under 3.5 tonnes were within the directive’s scope.
  • However, trucks weighing over 3.5 tonnes were not covered by the directive, and neither were other vehicle types such as motorcycles, trailers, and buses.
  • In 2017, 11.21 million light commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles left the registered records. Out of these, 6.57 million were reported as end-of-life vehicles.
  • The whereabouts of 3.77 million vehicles leaving the records are currently unknown, often due to exports not being declared.
  • The average weight of an end-of-life vehicle in 2017 was 1088 kilograms, totaling 12.2 million tonnes of waste.
  • The material composition of end-of-life vehicles in 2017 was approximately 70% ferrous metals, 4% non-ferrous metals, 3% glass, and 14.8% mixed plastic (excluding certain materials).
  • The use of plastic in vehicles has increased over time, with implications for end-of-life vehicle treatment.
  • In 2017, most EU Member States achieved the goal of an 85% recyclability rate for end-of-life vehicles.
  • The percentage of reused parts and components from end-of-life vehicles varied across the EU, ranging from zero to 33%.
  • Some materials, like metals and metal components, had high reuse and recycling rates, while materials like glass, tires, and most plastics were directed to energy recovery or landfills.
  • Europe has approximately 14,000 authorized treatment facilities and 350 vehicle cutting facilities. The number of such facilities before the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive’s implementation is unknown.


  1. End-of-Life Vehicle Treatment: Technical Basis
  • The treatment of end-of-life vehicles involves several steps, beginning with treatment in authorized facilities as required by the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive.
  • Annex I of the directive outlines minimum requirements for these facilities, with additional national requirements possible.
  • The second step involves shredding the end-of-life vehicle waste. Facilities for cutting and shredding must adhere to best available techniques for waste treatment.
  • Some facilities integrate cutting processes (Post Shredder Technologies), while others send remains for further processing, such as off-site after-cutting facilities or landfills.
  • The shredding process results in ferrous metals, aluminum, and other metal fractions, with some parts requiring additional treatment.
  • After-cutting processes, as shown in Figure 9, are considered essential for meeting the recycling goals set by the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive.



  • Understanding the current situation regarding end-of-life vehicles is crucial for effective management and compliance with the End-of-Life Vehicle Directive.
  • The technical basis for treatment and disposal involves multiple steps, with specific requirements outlined in the directive.
  • As the use of plastics in vehicles continues to increase, adapting end-of-life vehicle treatment processes will be essential.
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