Carloop leads Europe in car recycling

Thursday 21 09 2017

Many of Europe's used cars are exported through Antwerp to West Africa where they are given a second lease of life, or even a third, fourth and fifth. But once they finally give up the ghost, that's the end of the story. Until now, that is. With Carloop, Antwerp Port Authority has set up a pilot project to bring back usable parts and to recycle them here.

Circular economy for scrap cars

Cars can be up to 97% recycled by reusing their components or exploiting them as a source of raw materials for new products. With Carloop, usable parts are sorted out by local partners in Benin (the hub of the West African second-hand car market) and sent back to Antwerp where they are recycled by specialist companies.

The pilot project started on 1 July and will run for a period of one year. Other partners in the project are Campine Recycling, Galloo Recyclage, Toyota, Agoria, Febelauto, Worldloop and OVAM (Flemish Waste Management Authority).

"On the basis of the feasibility study and what we learn from the pilot project, the objective is to eventually bring all the structural partners together and to consider how to take it from there," explains Port Authority environment manager Kris De Craene.

The ultimate aim is to build a leading international circular economy in Flanders for second-hand export cars.

A level European playing field

A second objective of the project is to harmonise European measures to counter the illegal export of scrap cars. In 2012 the port of Antwerp imposed strict regulations on the export of used cars: only vehicles which have passed an inspection are now allowed out of the country. This has resulted in the number of second-hand car exports falling from 547,172 in 2012 to 307,300 in 2015. At present, however, it is unclear whether this represents an actual decrease in the number of used vehicles being exported from Europe, or whether these "scrap" vehicles are finding their way by another route (i.e. another port).

With this project Carloop aims to press for a stricter EU definition of second-hand cars, better tracing of the vehicles concerned and uniform standards in all European ports.