Continental has submitted a plan of action to the Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection with which the company intends to immediately reduce the lead content in some of its electronic components to legally prescribed maximum quantities in accordance with the End of Life Vehicles Directive. In addition, the plan contains a voluntary commitment to reduce the quantities of lead in the company’s electronic components beyond statutory requirements. The reason for this is the slight excess of lead in some of its electronic components, most of which have been delivered since 2016, identified by Continental and immediately reported to the authorities at the beginning of June 2019. They are used in printed circuit boards, for example in the form of capacitors.
The use of lead in electronic components is subject to different upper limits depending on the date of type approval of the vehicle. In Continental’s case, this concerns a noncompliant amount of lead averaging approximately 0.0003 grams per affected component. Vehicle handling, emissions and safety are not affected by the use of the affected components. In addition, the potentially noncompliant quantities of lead are recovered together with the legally permissible proportions in the recycling process. By this environmental protection is ensured. According to the company’s own calculations and preliminary assessments by neutral bodies, an additional entry of 0.00031 percent lead in relation to the basic environmental burden is realistically accrued at recycling plants in Germany.
In its action plan, Continental undertakes to analyze the situation together with its customers on an individual basis and to define the necessary conversion steps. To ensure an organized changeover, the action plan contains a timetable for each respective component.
According to Continental’s current knowledge, the changeover will not jeopardize the launch of new vehicle models.
Continental procures approximately 51,000 different electronic components per year. The company has now undertaken to design all components in the future in accordance with the limit values of the End of Life Vehicles Directive. This applies regardless of whether higher limit values apply to components or vehicles. In this way, Continental is helping to reduce the amount of lead in components far beyond the legal requirements. This measure applies worldwide and independently of the scope of the End of Life Vehicles Directive.
End of Life Vehicles Directive
The End of Life Vehicles Directive (Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the European Council of September 18, 2000 on end-of-life vehicles) regulates the disposal and recycling of motor vehicles within the European Union. It sets limits on certain materials for vehicles, such as the heavy metals lead, mercury and cadmium.
Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. Founded in 1871, the technology company offers safe, efficient, intelligent and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2018, Continental generated sales of €44.4 billion and currently employs more than 244,000 people in 60 countries and markets.