Verity Adams says recycling may need rethinking

The use of recycled parts to repair cars is back on the agenda, a year after a similar scheme fell by the wayside. This time it's the British Vehicle Salvage Federation (BVSF) that is behind the initiative, which could lead to a pilot in the autumn.

But despite the obvious environmental benefits and the potential for insurers to save millions, given the lower cost of recycled parts compared to new ones, insurers are not falling over themselves to sign up.

Insurers such as CIS, MMA and Highway – which supported last year's failed scheme – think the project shows real promise. But industry heavyweights Norwich Union (NU) and RBS Insurance (RBSI) are sceptical.

Could this new scheme suffer a similar fate to last year's initiative?

The first time round, when the plans were being overseen by MMA, it never got past the starting block. Gary Brench, the man initially in charge, left the company to become business development director at Claimwatch and no one else stepped up to fill his shoes.

NU and RBSI, who also showed no interest in the first pilot scheme, have taken the view that it is going to be a lot harder to persuade customers of the benefits than other insurers seem to think. Why would customers want a recycled part when they can get a new one?

Although it is claimed the scheme will be able to save insurers collectively £200m a year, more thought needs to be given to making this attractive to the consumer. If there is no customer desire there will be no benefit for the insurer and the scheme will inevitably have to declare defeat.

Insurers could consider introducing two tiers of insurance, offering lower premiums to policyholders who automatically accept recycled parts where appropriate.

The concept of using recycled parts is laudable and, while schemes such as the BVSF's may need a bit of fine-tuning, there is scope for them to find their place in the market.

The insurance industry talks a lot about being eco-friendly. Using recycled parts would be a positive step towards that. IT