Privatised environmental regulations to promote sustainable development? The case of auto-recycling in the Netherlands
Carla Smink, Aalborg University, Denmark
In the Netherlands, modernisation of environmental regulations in the car-dismantling trade has led to a regulation strategy that can be labelled ‘privatised environmental regulation’. Auto Recycling Nederland (ARN), an organisation established by four business associations in the car chain, executes a number of tasks, which originally have been executed by government. Examples are (1) ARN controls car-dismantling companies at least once a month and (2) ARN has formulated a list of equipment that car-dismantling companies have to purchase in order to be able to dismantle an end-of-life vehicle (ELV) in an environmental sound way. These requirements are similar to the technology-based standards imposed by government.

The advantages of this new regulatory approach is that ARN has the resources to control companies, the possibilities to develop new dismantling technologies, the possibilities to spread knowledge between car-dismantling companies and the potential to build a network of companies in the recycling-, use and disposal network. This gives good opportunities for ‘a greening of the car industry’. However, government keeps the legal responsibility for regulating companies.

In other words, in the car-dismantling trade a move away from a pure hierarchical, state-dictated model of environmental change can be distinguished. The state has given a non-state actor (ARN) the opportunity to initiate environmental change. This voluntary initiative has to take place within legal and state-set boundaries. With this a new balance between state and non-state actors in bringing about environmental reform has been established. By this, focus is increasingly on economic networks and organisational changes.

In the article, the question will be answered whether or not privatised environmental regulation can promote sustainable development. This will be illustrated with examples from the car dismantling industry in the Netherlands.

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