Global warming and environmental degradation are major concerns in today’s world. Humans have been exploiting the natural resources for their own benefits and now we have reached a point where minimizing their usage is our only option for survival. Factories, industries, vehicles and other machinery use up natural resources for fuel and also while manufacturing. To prevent future generations from the adverse effects of global warming and environmental degradation, people have started adapting the three R’s “reduce, reuse and recycle”. Especially the automobile industry has taken things more seriously and almost 25 million tons of material is recycled every year from old vehicles.
But how is a vehicle recycled? What is the process behind it and why is the process so eco-friendly? A curious mind like yours can think of such things. If you make it till the end of this section, you will get your answer. First, let’s start by looking at how vehicles are actually recycled in a recycling facility.
STEP ONE: VEHICLE REMOVAL
In order to perform auto-recycling, first, car removal facilities or Cash For Cars services need to remove your cars. Scrap car removal companies use tow trucks to remove old cars from people’s vicinity and bring them to safer areas. The collected old, used, unwanted, junk, and scrap cars are kept in their scrap yard.
STEP TWO: DETAILED INSPECTION
After that, the recycling facility performs a detailed inspection of each and every vehicle. They ascertain the condition of each component. All the working and non-working parts are duly noted with their respective names and condition. At this point, the recycling facility determines whether an old car should be repaired or recycled. If the company sees more profit in repairing the vehicle then it is repaired and sold as a whole unit.
STEP THREE: DRAINING FLUIDS AND DISMANTLING PARTS
After performing a rigorous inspection of the vehicle, all sorts of fluid inside the vehicle is drained. It includes petrol, oil, lubricants, antifreeze, brake and transmission fluids, and all sorts of other fuels that are in it. All of these liquids are safely stored and the hazardous ones are disposed of safely before taking the vehicle for dismantling.
The car engine and transmission are lifted from the car chassis. Then the usable parts are separated for reusing or recycling. While dismantling, all parts are handled with extra care.
STEP FOUR: SELLING USABLE PARTS
Not all the auto parts are worn out or useless. Some of them can be in good condition. Such parts are cleaned, lubricated and sold at a fairly small price. Other parts that might have suffered minor damages are repaired and sold as well. Most of the time these parts are taken to auto parts remanufacturers where they repair and reuse the parts. This way the exploitation of natural resources for reckless manufacturing can be minimised.
The remaining parts, which are no longer usable, are taken for recycling.
STEP FIVE: SHREDDING METAL SCRAPS AND PARTS
This is the final step where the actual recycling takes place. The non-usable parts are segregated based on their types. Non-metal parts are sorted out and stored or sold. On the other hand, metal parts are sent for crushing and shredding. The primary purpose of crushing and shredding metals is to reduce the amount of energy required to melt them. Once the metallic parts are crushed and shredded, the shredded parts are melted. After melting, auto recyclers can give any shape to them based on their needs.
Some Global Facts About Car Recycling
- Every year, more than 25 million tons of material is recycled from old vehicles including steel, iron, aluminium, plastic etc.
- Automobiles are the most recycled products in the world.
- Every year 27-million end-of-life vehicles are recovered for recycling.
- 98% to 99% of all car batteries can be recycled.
- Since car dismantling and parts repairing requires skilled hands, car recycling creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.
What vehicle parts can be recycled or reused?
Not all parts in an end-of-life vehicle are useless and need to be dumped. Sometimes after adding a few small touchups and providing small repairs, a part can get as good as new. Reusing these parts can drastically reduce the manufacturing process. Some of these parts are:
Oil filters can be recycled as soon as the oil found in the reservoir is completely drained. Most used oil filters still contain a significant amount of oil, which means that they’re a hazardous waste that needs to be recycled. People who throw these parts in the trash should become aware of the fact that both steel and oil are nonrenewable resources.
The oil collected from recycled filters can be easily converted into the brand-new motor oil, and this would consistently lower the current pollution.
Vehicle batteries are made of lead, which is an extremely toxic material. Without proper recycling, this toxic material can harm the environment in many ways. Also, the whole process of car battery recycling is extremely simple. Car batteries must be recycled in specialized facilities due to the presence of acids and can be dangerous if not disposed of properly.
“Almost 80% of a car battery is manufactured from recycled products.”
First, the lead is separated from the plastic case and fed into a furnace to be melted down. Then the lead is reused for the manufacturing of brand new batteries. The plastic casing is also cleaned out. Finally, the acid is treated and neutralized.
Tyres And Wheels
Burning is the most common way old tyres are treated. However, this is toxic to the environment and most of the modern car recycling centres do not follow this traditional method. A smart way to deal with old tyres is to reuse them in swings, targets, art or even planters.
Vehicle tyres comprise of rubber fibre and metal. Once an old tyre reaches a recycling facility, it is shredded or turned into Tyre Derived Fuel. The shredded tyre is passed through magnets and screens which separates the fibre from the metal.
Rubber fibre can be melted down and reformed into caster wheels, lawnmower wheels, or recycled into rubber bands, automotive belts or asphalt ingredients. It can also be converted into fine granules and reused below artificial turf or playgrounds.
Wheels, on the other hand, are pure metal and are melted down and reformed into new shapes.
Around 80% of the total mass of your vehicle is metal. The metal on an end-of-life vehicle is just as important as any other piece of metal. Metal from wheels, axels, engine, handles, hoods, etc can be sold to scrap metal companies, who will melt it down so it can be reused. Scrapyards make sure that every rusted metal piece on your vehicle is recycled so that it doesn’t get to a landfill.
Glass from windscreen and windows can be recovered and recycled to produce glass bottles, fibreglass insulation and other important everyday products. Auto recyclers can even reuse these items in another vehicle. After the glass is recovered from an old vehicle, it is crushed in grinders and then processed to obtain glass cullet which can be used in concrete, fibreglass insulation, asphalt etc.
Traditionally car radiators were mostly comprised of copper or brass but modern radiators consist of 56% – 44% of aluminium. Copper or brass, aluminium, and plastic are what make up for today’s radiators. Like any other metal from the car, radiator metal can be scrapped, melted down and reformed to new shapes. The total price for your scrap radiator will depend upon the type of metal used and the current price of that metal in your area.
Gasoline, engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant are the major fluids present in your car. These fluids are hazardous to the environment and flammable as well. So they have to removed before dismantling the vehicle. Car parts store, dealerships and chemical companies or hazardous waste facilities will accept these fluids and process them for reusability.
Fluids like engine oil just get dirty over time and can be cleaned for reuse. Disposing of such fluids on soil, groundwater, rivers and natural ecosystems can have deadly impacts.
All in all, auto recycling is an important procedure. When people violate recycling policies and dump all their end-of-life/ damaged vehicles into landfills, they are not just losing a chance to make some money but also degrading earth’s state.