Which European countries are doing the most to reduce end-of-life vehicle waste?

Climate / Bulgaria
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As the 2030 deadline for the ban of petrol and diesel car sales draws closer, the question of what to do with retired cars keeps cropping up. It is suggested that in 2018, 6.1 million cars were scrapped across Europe and without intervention this number could continue to rise, hitting an all-time high in 2030 when a flurry of cars could be ready for retirement. The End-of-Life Vehicles Directive is a legal act of the European Union, drawn up to tackle this issue directly.

You’ll be pleased to know cars are a great source of recycling - this can either mean reusing parts for repairs or used to produce energy. But are we doing the most to reduce waste when it comes to these end-of-life vehicles (ELV)?

To find out which countries do the most and least to reduce end-of-life vehicle waste, energy saving website SaveOnEnergy analysed data from Eurostat and predicted end-of-life recycling rates by 2030.

Which countries are doing the most to reduce end-of-life vehicle waste?

1. Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg & Romania (-100%)

With the help of scrappage schemes and eco-friendly investments by their governments, these countries are predicting negative waste by 2030. Germany’s scrappage scheme in 2009 was the largest to date, seeing 1.2m applicants in the first few months of the initial roll-out. If their current trajectory continues, it is likely they’ll see a reduction of 560k in ELV waste by the 2030 deadline.

Both Romania and Greece are on track for similarly impressive reductions in waste - Romania’s scrappage scheme will have positively impacted that number since 2010 when they increased the number of cars per person the scheme would cover.

2. Croatia (-73%)

The stunning Croatian coastline draws millions of tourists to its shores each year, and while that has caused issues with recycling in the past, it seems Croatia has cleaned up its act. Coming in second on our list of countries reducing ELV waste, they’re set to see a 73% decrease by 2030, which equates to nearly 20K fewer wasted vehicles in 12 years.

3. Hungary (-71%)

Despite coming up 10th in our list of the most eco-conscious European countries study, Hungary is sitting pretty in 3rd when it comes to reducing end-of-life vehicle waste. If numbers continue to follow our predictions, they should see a drop of nearly 14k by 2030, or a decrease of 71% in total when compared to the latest data.

4. Slovakia (-67%)

Not content with having some of the highest rated national parks in the EU, Slovakia has been repeatedly hitting EU waste targets over the last few years. Rolled out in 2009, there is no doubt that the scrappage scheme in Slovakia has played an important part in driving down the numbers for ELV waste. We’re predicting a 67% drop by 2030, or a reduction of an estimated 26,491 vehicles in 12 years.

5. Italy (-63%)

There has been considerable effort put into recycling schemes in Italy over the last decade, with latest reports suggesting overall recycling rates have increased from 31% in 2009 to 51.3% in 2019. As our findings show, this translates to a dramatic decrease in ELV waste in the future - if progress continues at a steady rate, 2030 should see a reduction of 644,315 in ELV waste.

Which countries are doing the least to reduce end-of-life vehicle waste?

1. Liechtenstein (+169%)

As Europe’s fourth smallest country, it will come as no surprise that their numbers are dramatically lower than their neighbours, with just 213 ELV’s reported in 2018. However, this number is predicted to rise in the next decade without the implementation of a scrappage scheme, meaning the Liechtenstein government could see an increase in ELV waste of 361, or 169%, by 2030.

2. Malta (+160%)

Despite being known for its stunning landscapes and historical architecture, Malta is being seen as one of the least environmentally friendly countries when it comes to end-of-life vehicle recycling. With numbers set to rise to 9,014 in 2030, this 160% increase places them firmly at the bottom of our list of countries dealing with ELV waste.

3. Czechia (+104%)

Famed for the density of its castles and Bohemian heritage, Czechia has made great strides when tackling household waste over the last decade, having been found to be the third lowest per capita in Europe in 2018. However, with one of the largest increases in ELV waste in our bottom five, it is predicted the country will see 176,190 wasted vehicles in 2030.

4. Bulgaria (+80%)

Despite having announced having the third highest plastic recycling rates in Europe, Bulgaria is on course to see an 80% rise in ELV waste by 2030. Eurostat’s data recorded nearly 100k end-of-life vehicles in 2018, which is likely to increase to 179,207 if no government-funded schemes or eco-policies are put in place.

5. Poland (+79%)

The country has long been seen as one of Europe’s biggest polluters, with its 44% municipal recycling rate falling below the EU target of 50%. And, with the highest increase of our bottom five countries, Poland could see a staggering 405,469 rise in ELV waste by 2030 if the numbers continue to rise as projected.


SaveOnEnergy.com/uk began by sourcing the most recently published Eurostat ‘End of Life Vehicles’ data, dating from 2008 to 2018.

Utilising the forecast feature on Excel, SaveOnEnergy were able to predict the figures until 2030.

To fairly identify which countries have the best and worst recycling rate of vehicles, they took the 2030 figure away from the 2018 figure to see which country had the biggest decrease. Some countries didn't have the 2018 data available, so the most recent data input was used instead.

To take into account that not all countries have the same amount of cars, SaveOnEnergy took the percentage change in waste.

Due to the data being based on general trend in historical data provided by Eurostat, the top countries (Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Romania) were projecting that they would produce negative waste, so their figures were changed to project 0, thus implying those countries will potentially not produce any end of life vehicle waste.

*The results were found using the excel forecast function and is to be used as an indication of general trend, based on the historical data provided by Eurostat.

**Some countries didn’t have the data available and was left blank. This has been shown in the full data breakdown.



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