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Swedish motorcyclists: EU scrapping directive restricts individual freedom

Swedish motorcyclists’ organisation SMC – a member of FEMA – is strongly critical of the EU’s proposal for a new scrapping directive – the proposal wants to solve a problem that does not exist! Just like FEMA, SMC believes that the proposal results in significant restrictions and intrusions on individual freedom for very limited benefits to the environment and climate.

SMC‘s analysis shows that the proposal would have clear consequences for motorcyclists. It establishes additional obligations for motorcycle owners and makes it more difficult to repair your vehicle yourself. Increasing the cost of the recycling process results in a reduced availability of spare parts at the MC scrapping companies.

Within the EU, there are rules on how to collect and scrap cars. Motorcycles and mopeds are exempt from these rules but a review of the End of Life Directive (ELV) is now underway which proposes to include them. SMC has submitted its consultation response to the government to highlight the negative consequences for motorcyclists. SMC takes a positive view of the ambition to strengthen a circular economy within the automotive industry. Properly designed, it can have positive effects in several areas, but SMC is critical of whether the EU’s proposal for the scrapping directive is the right solution for motorcycles in Sweden.

Wim Taal, FEMA’s General Secretary: “Virtually all motorcycle parts can be re-used, through a large network of specialised second-hand part suppliers or by users themselves who swap and change parts with other owners. Parts that are not re-used are recycled through local recycling schemes or sent on by second-hand part shops. There is no evidence of motorcycles being dumped beside the road or otherwise disposed of in an inappropriate manner.”

Due to weather conditions, the motorcycle season is very limited in Sweden. According to statistics from Trafikanalys (Trafa), an average of 2,000 kilometers per year is driven by a Swedish-registered motorcycle, which is significantly lower than in many other countries. The motorcycles must undergo a mandatory inspection every two years, and according to the Swedish Transport Agency, they have the lowest percentage of failed vehicles during the inspection. Due to these conditions, 75 percent of the motorcycle fleet consists of motorcycles older than ten years. In other words, motorcyclists take good care of and maintain their motorcycles. According to Traffic Analysis (Trafa), there are 322,817 motorcycles in traffic and 262,712 parked motorcycles in Sweden. Decommissioned motorcycles have the potential to, after an approved control inspection, return to traffic. Any simple repairs may be required and the availability of spare parts enables the individuals to replace worn out parts with genuine and standardized spare parts from motorcycle dismantling companies.

It is important to note that neither the Consumer Purchase Act nor any other consumer protection legislation currently requires motorcycle manufacturers to provide spare parts. This means that there is a need for older motorcycles to have access to original spare parts. If an individual has the opportunity to repair their vehicle and thus extend its life, this can have a positive effect on the global environmental impact of the vehicle.

SMC conducted a survey of scrapping companies specializing in motorcycles and was able to determine that the recycling rate is very high. The county administrations around Sweden state that it is very rarely, if at all, that motorcycles are found in the wild when they are used up.

SMC’s analysis shows that the proposal in its current form would have clear consequences for motorcyclists, some of which could lead to additional burdens for the vehicle category:

  • The proposal establishes additional obligations for vehicle owners: they must deliver their end-of-life vehicles to an authorized treatment facility (ATF), indicate any change of ownership and provide proof of proper treatment of their end-of-life vehicles.
  • SMC wants to defend the individual’s right to repair their vehicle – which will not be legally prohibited by the proposal, but there may be a significant financial incentive against it.
  • SMC is critical of the proposal’s impact on the market for spare parts. Here, the combination of fewer used parts provided by individuals, the lack of obligations for ATF to dismantle motorcycles prior to shredding, and the fewer facilities permitted to process end-of-life vehicles together can negatively affect both the formal and informal used parts markets.
  • Regarding stolen motorcycles: although there are provisions in the proposal that effectively address this issue, there is room for improvement.
  • The SMC’s referral also highlights possible unintended effects of the proposal, including higher prices for used and official spare parts and that some old but non-historic vehicles may become end-of-life vehicles due to economic irreversibility.

While it is important to note that historic vehicles are not affected by the regulation, a possible consequence of economic irreversibility could be that some motorcycles would no longer achieve historic vehicle status: if they require repair shortly before they are transformed into a historic vehicle, and if this repair is more expensive than the value of the vehicle at that time, the proposal seems to indicate that the vehicle would be turned into an end-of-life vehicle due to financial irreversibility. SMC believes that the proposal results in significant restrictions and intrusions on individual freedom for very limited benefits to the environment and climate.

In 2020 FEMA responded to the European Commission’s request for feedback, explaining why in our view motorcycles should not be included in a new directive or regulation.If motorcycles were to be included in the scope of the directive, that could mean the end of so-called home recycling. Recycling of motorcycles and motorcycle parts is an inherent part of motorcycle use. Home recycling, where you end the bike’s registration and take it apart for re-use of its parts, is a significant part of the motorcycle culture. Home recycling helps to keep bikes on the road with used spare parts, instead of using new parts that must be produced from raw materials.

In FEMA’s view, the current Directive succeeded in preventing waste from vehicles, the re-use of parts from vehicles and improvement of the environmental performance of all economic operators involved in the life cycle of vehicles. We can also understand the need to extend the scope of the directive to other kinds of vehicles than cars.

FEMA asked the European Commission to ensure that the possibility of controlled in-house demolition remains possible (as part of a circular economy), either by including it in the Directive, or by allowing Member States to make their own rules and regulations for in-house demolition. FEMA will re-emphasise its position in communication with the EC, since this is not addressed in the proposed Regulation.

FEMA also asked the Commission to ensure that historic powered two-wheelers of value to collectors or intended for museums, kept in a proper and environmentally sound manner, either ready for use or stripped into parts, do not fall within the scope of this Directive. FEMA will re-emphasise its position in communication with the EC, since this is not addressed in the proposed Regulation.

Although FEMA supports the overall goals of the proposed Regulation, we do see the danger for smaller treatment facilities that currently sell used motorcycle parts; they can be overwhelmed by high implementation costs and adaptation to new treatment technologies.

Click here for FEMA’s full position.

Source: SMC

Top photograph courtesy of

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