Richard Taylor, Dennis Eagle’s sales and marketing director and an RWM in Partnership With CIWM ambassador, discusses European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval.
CIWM Journal Online Exclusive
Waste. As an industry, we process mountains of it every day. Some is recycled, some is buried or burned. We spend vast sums of money processing our society’s leftovers, the huge cost of a lifestyle that wraps chocolate in tinfoil, places it in a plastic tray inside a cardboard box and sends it home in a plastic bag.
This is an issue all too familiar to anyone in the waste and recycling industries. Directly or indirectly, we deal with the negative externalities (unintended, unaccounted-for costs) of modern life every day. More than any other group of people, we in the waste processing industry owe it to ourselves to set high standards that challenge us to improve our products, behaviour and ultimately the world.
We ought to set an example, seizing new technology and using it to mitigate the costs of waste in all its forms.
If that sounds grandiose, don’t worry. We’re actually going to discuss European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval – legislation designed to harmonise vehicle approvals across the European Community. As a company with a stake in the waste sector, Dennis Eagle faces the challenge of varying environmental and safety standards around the world and in the EU; this gives us some experience in how to approach and design such rules.
For common-sense product attributes like efficiency and safety, shared regulations are (assuming they are well-written!) a sensible way to ensure citizens and consumers are protected from unnecessary harm. After all, we share the same planet. We are all reliant on the same resources. Shouldn’t we hold ourselves to universally high standards?
Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) is a step towards this ideal, at least in Europe. WVTA is designed to standardise safety and environmental requirements across the EU, and the procedures and practises required for approval. More generally, it is hoped these changes will remove barriers to trade and minimise the time and expense of having vehicles approved, helping competition and innovation across borders.
There are plenty of benefits for operators, manufacturers and citizens. Naturally, there are concerns, too. Should we support the new rules or favour the old ones? Do they go too far or not far enough? How will they affect the marketplace? Will jobs be lost? Unnecessary red tape or vital regulation? These questions jostle in the mind of any legislator, operator or manufacturer when rules change; we’ll begin by breaking down the advantages we perceive.
Standardised Safety Requirements
The change harmonises vehicle approvals across the European Community. This means standardised safety and environmental requirements, and standardised procedures for vehicle testing. If manufacturers wish to sell their products in Europe, their vehicles only have to pass one series of tests.
A single set of guidelines, tests and vehicles is more efficient, and removes the need for manufacturers to re-engineer their vehicles for different markets. The removal of those barriers to trade will (we hope) spur greater competition as manufacturers compete in the same marketplace, instead of local regions compartmentalised by local policy. Uniform standards should make approval faster, although at this early stage the sheer number of vehicles requiring approval is slowing the process down.
Perhaps the most important benefit is the enforcement of consistently high standards. Member countries of the European Community share roads, air and water. Our vehicles should adhere to the same standards of safety, efficiency and cleanliness. Those standards should challenge us as manufacturers and engineers to constantly improve our products for everyone, not only our customers. Every business has a social responsibility, whether its management considers so or not; many times government is the only entity capable of enforcing standards of behaviour that account for negative externalities (we recall the issue of leaded petrol, which dispersed millions of tonnes of the neurotoxic element across the atmosphere).
Innovation and adaptation are difficult; some smaller manufacturers will struggle with the new WVTA rules. Dennis Eagle faces issues with the new legislation too: complete vehicle approval means all chassis and body combinations have to be certified, but as we build chassis and bodies in different lengths and specifications we will need to approve more vehicles. It would be simpler if we had one standard chassis – then the different bodies we added wouldn’t affect the vehicle type – but that doesn’t fit with our ethos of customisability and versatility.
In the short term, enacting legislative change is painful. In the long run, it’s a form of self-discipline that spurs our ingenuity to help preserve the world for the next generation.
That may sound ambitious; perhaps it is. But let’s aim high.
Richard Taylor is sales director at Dennis Eagle. He joined in 1990, working in roles encompassing sales, engineering and waste management. He is an ambassador for RWM in Partnership with CIWM, and is the only representative from a manufacturer on the team.