New laboratory testing facilities at Axion Polymers’ Manchester-based end-of-life (ELV) vehicle recycling facility have been officially opened by the Liberal candidate for European Commission President and former Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt MEP.
Mr Verhofstadt praised Axion’s progress at its advanced multi-million pound Shredder Waste Advanced Processing Plant (SWAPP), which is already capable of delivering the 2015 EU ELV 95% recycling and recovery target.
This is achieved by producing recycled plastics, including Axpoly r-PP51 that goes back into new automotive components. Other materials recycled at the plant include aggregates for the construction industry and high calorific solid recovered fuel.
Axion Polymers also offers testing services for external clients for polymers and waste derived materials in its laboratories at both its Salford and Trafford Park sites.
"It’s great innovation. This plant is the future and we will need more like them as we move to a Circular Economy. We should encourage the automotive industry to make more use of recycled materials that are produced here," said Mr Verhofstadt, who is leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
His March 21st visit, accompanied by Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West, provided the opportunity to see the impact of European legislation on end-of-life vehicle recycling. Mr Davies invited Mr Verhofstadt having been impressed by Axion’s progress and significant investment in plant, equipment and personnel during his tour of the award-winning Trafford Park facility last November.
Commenting on the visit, Axion Director Keith Freegard said: "While it was very rewarding to see that someone so senior in European Government has taken an interest in the new green economy that we’re creating here in Manchester, it was also the perfect opportunity to highlight the need for economic or legislative drivers that encourage more engagement from automotive manufacturers with the products that are now becoming available from end-of-life treatment."
Keith suggested the rate of transition to a truly circular economy will be much accelerated by some strong, positive economic drivers – ‘big carrots rather than big sticks’ – that reward those car manufacturers who use materials that have been recycled from their own end-of-life products.
He continued: "At the moment in the UK there is a lack of any positive driver to make that happen. What we need now in the next phase of moving towards a Circular Economy is legislation is a ‘big carrot’ – some fiscal benefit to car manufacturers who can demonstrate the conversion of significant quantities of fully traceable recycled polymers from the automotive treatment plants back into new vehicle components.
"I think that enabling good quality recycled products to break into the automotive sector and a rethink in the design of new components for cars really needs some Governmental intervention to create the pump-priming effect to start it happening."
He added: "Vehicle manufacturers need some rewards for taking the brave steps to select and use these new circular flow materials. It was great to get Mr Verhofstadt thinking about what would be the correct type of ‘big carrot’ that could be implemented across Europe to generate that necessary new driver in the economy."
The European End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive aims to reduce the amount of waste produced from vehicles when they are scrapped. Under the ELV Directive, producers of vehicles are responsible for achieving certain recycling targets as well as environmental standards for the storage and treatment of ELVs. Since 2006, the UK and all other EU member states have been expected to reach a national recycling, reuse and recovery target of 85%, rising to 95% in January 2015, just nine months away.
Operated jointly with S Norton, one of the UK’s leading ferrous and non-ferrous metal recyclers, Axion’s plant, one of the most advanced of its type in Europe, has an annual capacity of 200,000 tonnes separating the non-metallic fractions (ASR or shredder ‘fluff’) from the equivalent of about 800,000 cars a year.
Over the last year, significant investment in new buildings and specialist plant equipment has increased the capacity for handling the complex plastics concentrate mixture from the ASR separation process. Sophisticated laboratory testing equipment is enhancing Axion’s ability to deliver accurate sampling results from complicated waste streams. New equipment has also been installed related to advanced leading-edge research projects on precious metals and metals recovery from hydrogen fuel cells.
Axion’s whole approach to materials recycling is to treat separated output streams as valuable technical products and this production philosophy demands that excellent quality control and monitoring procedures are installed as part of the professional manufacturing process. Investment in the best analytical equipment and allocating skilled staff and resources to the Q.C. system is the only way to convince customers that the sorted materials streams will be consistently within the agreed delivery specification targets.
Axion Polymers is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients within the recycling and process industries on the practical development of new processing and collection methods.