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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The environmental impact of end-of-life vehicle legislation and vehicle use in Europe and North America Gerrard, Jason

Abstract

This 'manuscript-based' thesis investigates the environmental consequences of current practices and recent developments in the automotive industry. The first manuscript (Chapter 2) analyses the effect of the European End-of-Life Vehicle Directive (2000) on the environmental performance and level of 'green' innovation in the European automotive industry. The research methodology consists primarily of a review of publicly available academic, governmental and commercial literature. The results show that legislative factors and market forces have led to innovations in recycling, increased hazardous substance removal and improved information dissemination. Such actions may be sufficient to reach ELV Directive targets and could have spill-over benefits to other industries. Carmakers are also taking steps to design for recycling and for disassembly. However, movement towards design for re-use and remanufacturing is limited. This research also highlighted the lack of knowledge about the major economy-wide heavy metal releases resulting from car use. The analysis behind the second manuscript (Chapter 3) was conducted in order to fill this information gap. The methodology involved using Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment in conjunction with other life cycle techniques to assess the economy wide releases of lead, cadmium and their compounds during the life cycle of an average light-duty> vehicle in the United States. The results show that lead and cadmium are released into the environment primarily during manufacturing of the original vehicle and replacement parts. Loss of wheel balance-weights during use, battery recycling inefficiencies and lead emitted during disposal of other end-of-life parts also contribute significantly to lead discharges. Consequently, mitigation efforts should focus on minimising releases from metal mining, maximising collection and recycling efficiencies of lead-acid batteries, implementing alternatives to lead wheel weights and minimising the lead content of other components. A significant portion of releases resulted from sources other than the lead and cadmium contained in the car. Thus legislating heavy metals out of vehicles will not eliminate all the lead and cadmium emitted due to automobile use. Accordingly, these manuscripts reinforce the importance of developing environmental management strategies that reflect the economy-wide impacts of vehicle manufacture, use and recovery.

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