Scrap cars are important sources of material that if properly recycled can be made into new and more modern products. Until recently vehicle recycling wasn’t regarded as a necessity and old cars were just found aging by the sides of the road.
Nowadays around 75% of the materials that make up vehicles are completely recycled, this mainly means the metallic content (steel and aluminium) and the 25% made out of plastic and rubber is landfilled. The remaining 25% also includes hazardous substances like oil or antifreeze.
The BBC posted a an interactive video a while back regarding car recycling. Check out the video HERE and take an entertaining quiz while you are there. Moving forward;
In an attempt to make improve vehicle recycling the European Commission introduced the End of Life Vehicle Directive or ELV Directive. This directive would counter vehicle abandonment and increase the percentage of recyclable materials that cars are made from. In order to increase the success rate of the ELV directive, vehicle manufacturers were given legal responsibility to design and build cars that are “more recyclable” while also providing arrangements for the vehicles “end of life”.
Saving resources and energy by recycling vehicles:
A study performed by the United Recyclers Group (URG) from the United States of America in order to measure the impact of vehicle recycling, especially regarding energy consumption and resource savings outlined some important facts. Their study was based on an estimation that approximately 11 million vehicles are being retired every day. Here are just three of their conclusions:
· By just recycling the steel from the fenders of vehicles in the US they could save more than 8 million tons of raw mineral. This mineral could be used to make new steel.
· Recycling the aluminium wheels would end up saving 1.71 billion kilowatt hours of energy that would otherwise be used to make new wheels from newly produced aluminium.
· Over 24 million gallons of motor oil is extracted per year from recyclable vehicles. This oil is then reprocessed and reused.
During the scraping process there is also plenty of glass, plastic and rubber that can be recycled, once the aluminium and steel is sold as scrap metal.
Environmental Benefits of Car Recycling in London:
Recycling the steel used in the scrap cars means that the amount of iron ore that would have been needed to create that amount of steel can be saved for future endeavors. In addition, for every ton of steel produced nearly half a ton of coal is required so imagine the amount of coal that would be saved instead of it being used to make new steel. Going even further back into the process we would also save tons of limestone that would otherwise be used to mine the coal needed to craft the steel.
Recycling cars saves time, energy and money; money that can be put to better use for our community. And recycling doesn't end at steel and aluminium. Various fluids and materials are also recycled from scrap cars, chemicals that would otherwise start seeping into groundwater and polluting the environment.
· Greenhouse Gases:
As mentioned above by recycling steel this prevents the need to manufacture brand new steel. Making new steel from iron requires large quantities of coal to be burned inside refineries. These refineries are the largest contributors of greenhouse gases. The primary contributors are gasoline and diesel burning automobiles. However with the ever more strict regulations placed on car manufacturers the pollution of vehicles is in a gradual decline.
· Reusing vehicle parts:
Protecting the environment requires more than just recycling used materials. It is as important to start reducing the amount of non-sustainable materials we consume. Most of the times cars that have been in accidents are not completely and many parts can be repaired and resold for later use. As such there are many salvage yards that go to great lengths in order to salvage as much as possible before the car is scrapped. Reusing repaired vehicle parts can save money and the environment by not having to produce new pieces.
· Long term environmental benefits:
In the future, if more and more people understand the benefits of recycling, and this type of behavior becomes the norm, it will greatly reduce the number of old and rusty vehicles found in junkyards and landfills, thus reducing the amount of spilled chemicals and greenhouse gases. Even if there would be one vehicle per lifetime for every single one of us that would reduce the number of dangerous greenhouse gases by an immense amount.