Every year, about 27 million cars reach the end of their useful life around the world. The good news is that about a large portion of these end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) can be recycled and their parts can be reused.
Improper disposal of car parts like tires, automotive fluids, and other hazardous materials can cause great harm to the environment. Automotive parts like batteries that contain acid, mercury, and lead can end up in landfills, lakes, and rivers if they are not adequately recycled, which increases pollution. Recycling is therefore strongly advised in order to lessen the likelihood of environmental damage. In addition to helping the environment, proper car parts disposal supports local businesses by giving consumers cash back.
In this post, we’re discussing everything related to car parts disposal, including how to dispose of car parts, which car parts should be recycled, and more.
What Is Car Recycling and Why Is Car Recycling Important
With a $25 billion annual GDP contribution, the auto recycling sector ranks 16th in the United States. The Association of Automobile Manufacturers estimates that each year, 95% of vehicles removed from American roads are recycled.
How to Dispose of Old Car Parts
So, how exactly does the car parts disposal process work? Once the vehicle approaches the end of its useful life, the owner can sell it to a junkyard or an auto recycling facility. When the car arrives at a junk yard or recycling facility, it follows four basic procedures.
Thorough inspection: The recycling facility examines the vehicle to see whether it would be better to fix it rather than recycle it. If the repair appears to be unprofitable, the recycling facility moves forward with dismantling and recycling. In a junkyard, almost 90% of the cars are dismantled and recycled rather than fixed.
Draining fluids and dismantling parts: The recycling plant drains various fluids from vehicles, including gas, oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, as well as brake fluids and lubricants. Operators separate and gather hazardous liquids for secure disposal, whereas oil and gas are purified and repurposed. Afterward, all useful parts are removed and cleaned. Automotive batteries and tires are among the additional components that are taken out for recycling or resale.
Selling the recovered car parts: Some auto parts can be used directly to fix other vehicles, while others can be sold to companies that make new auto parts.
Crushing and shredding: After all the recyclable automobile parts—aside from metals like steel and iron—have been processed, stored, or sold, all that is left is the car body, which is crushed into a flat chunk of metal.
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The Benefits of Car Parts Disposal
There are many benefits to recycling cars, both for you and for the environment and industry as a whole. Here are some of the most important ones:
If the materials from the car are properly reprocessed, the environmental effects of auto part disposal and recycling are undeniable. Since iron is required to make steel, recycling automobiles contributes to the preservation of iron ores. Moreover, all waste generated as a byproduct of refining steel is avoided, preventing an increase in air pollution.
Recycling used cars can reduce water and air pollution. The impacts of auto components being dumped in landfills are lessened, while at the same time avoiding contamination of rivers and lakes.
Conservation of resources and energy
Vehicle recycling helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases discharged into the atmosphere by ensuring that steel is recycled rather than freshly manufactured. Moreover, it contributes to energy saving because melting down old steel uses less energy than refining iron ores.
Other materials needed to make cars, like plastic, can also be quite harmful to the environment. The manufacturing of new plastic requires a significant amount of energy and fresh resources because automobiles are mass-produced.
Helping the economy
The car recycling industry in the US generates $25 billion in GDP and employs over 140,000 people. As recycling steel is less expensive than making new steel, many companies rely on it. By giving businesses access to a supply of steel that can be resold to them, we can ensure their existence and maintain the affordability of their products for customers.
Recycled car parts can be used to create new products
Thanks to recycling, your car can continue to live in the form of another product. Tires, wipers, seats, batteries, and engine block parts are the most frequently reused pieces of junk cars. For instance, by recycling car tires, you can create tables, planters, playground surfaces, exercise equipment, or shoes. Metals from your old car can also be recycled and used to create appliances, ductwork, food packaging, lighting fixtures, and art.
Photo by Robert Laursoo on Unsplash
7 Most Recycled Car Parts
By looking at the seven most recyclable automobile parts, you can learn how to get the most out of car parts disposal.
Scrap metal recycling
One of the simplest automotive materials to recycle is metal. Your car's metal components like steel wheels, doors and door handles, side mirrors, headlight bezels, and aluminum rims can all be melted down and transformed into different products.
The scrap yard will weigh and value your car based on its usability. What's left of the car will be crushed into indistinguishable metal cubes after some parts have been taken out for recycling or other types of disposal.
Tires are nondegradable, so if they are not recycled, they take up a lot of room in landfills. Tire burning releases toxic air pollution and combustible runoff into the environment. Tires that have been removed in good condition can be repaired and used again on other cars or made into brand-new tires.
Even if a tire cannot be used again, it can still be recycled and used to make fuel, artificial grass for playgrounds, and rubberized asphalt for roads.
Oil, oil filters, and other auto fluids
Improper disposal of motor oils can harm soil and water supplies but the good news is that they are reusable. Oil never actually wears out; it merely gets dirty. When changing your oil, bring your used oil to an oil recycling facility or auto repair shop where it will be reprocessed to become brand-new oil. Other car fluids such as power steering fluid, antifreeze, and transmission fluid can be also processed and recycled into new fluids.
When it comes to oil filters, each one has about a pound of steel in it, so if brought to a recycling facility, the filters will be emptied of extra oil and used again in the production of steel.
Many car parts, including gas tanks and dashboards, are composed of recyclable plastic. Plastic items like lights and bumpers can be taken apart from the rest of the vehicle and either shredded or melted. In addition, if they are still in good shape, you can sell these parts as replacement parts to repair shops.
Recycling plastic prevents valuable raw materials from ending up in landfills and enables their reuse in goods like recycled garden furniture, carpets, and auto parts, among others.
Because the glass portion of the windshield is sandwiched between two layers of protective plastic, broken windshields frequently accumulate in landfills. Fortunately, the removal of recyclable automotive glass has become simpler thanks to technical advancements, and many windshield repair businesses collaborate with recycling facilities to recycle the glass.
Automotive glass can be turned into concrete blocks, jewelry, glass bottles, countertops, fiberglass insulation, and floor tiles. Even the plastic that originally protected the glass can be used for carpet adhesive and other things.
Electronics like batteries
Unlike electronic vehicles which use lithium batteries, conventional cars have two types of batteries — AGM and flooded batteries, which use lead-acid technology. A typical acid battery contains lead which when disposed of in a landfill, creates electronic waste that can harm the environment.
For this reason, many states demand that dead batteries be returned to manufacturers or recycled properly by auto part stores. In addition, some states also promote a law that pays car owners for replacing a dead car battery with a new one.
Engine and parts of the emission system
After removal, engines and some of their parts can be rebuilt thanks to their long lifespan. Engines can be taken apart, cleaned, repaired, and resold for use in new automobiles. Some mechanics can even use advanced technology to repair broken or abandoned engines and make them more effective and ecologically friendly.
Even though some parts are still unique to individual automobile models, radiators, spark plugs, catalytic converters, and transmissions can all be very important to manufacturers and have the potential to be reused.
The Bottom Line
As automakers shift to a more sustainable focus, new automobiles are being engineered to be more recycling-friendly, with parts made from recyclable materials and less use of heavy metals that can harm the environment. This implies that there will be much simpler to recycle cars and other vehicles in the future.
If you are wondering how to dispose of car parts, the answer is you don’t have to disassemble your automobile yourself. Recycling your car is a simple and practical choice thanks to the many car recycling services that will take the car away and even pay you cash. The recyclable components will then be removed from the car and sold for reuse and recycling at an auto scrap yard.
In addition to helping you get rid of a car that can no longer be driven and is taking up valuable space on your property, proper disposal of car parts can also assist the environment and earn you extra money.