Each year, as many as 15 million vehicles leave the road for good and are sent to scrap. In the past, many of these cars might sit in junkyards for years to be picked through for spare parts, with their non-usable components finding their way to landfills. Over the last few decades though, vehicle recycling has grown into a $22 billion industry, with approximately 95 percent of retired vehicles now being recycled in some way or another.
The most widely recycled material from these vehicles is steel, which makes up an average of 65 percent of each car. Recently though, recyclers have become better at recovering other scrap materials, which are being repurposed in increasingly creative ways. According to the EPA, there are more than 110 current products containing recycled tire rubber alone, which can be turned into everything from asphalt to fuel.
There are several ways to go about ensuring that your car or truck meets its end in an eco-friendly manner. For those who know their way around an engine, salvaging working parts from your car or truck and selling them can net some extra cash beyond what you might get from a recycler. eBay’s online marketplace for used auto parts currently lists more than 70,000 used parts and accessories.
Once you are ready to turn your vehicle over to a recycler, the first step is to locate one that is reputable and environmentally efficient. Look for the Automotive Recyclers Association’s stamp of approval on local scrappers in your area, or visit the ARA website and use their database of approved businesses.
Most recyclers will offer you money in exchange for your vehicle, with the amount usually determined by its weight. You can shop around to find the best price or choose a recycler based upon its environmental reputation. Some are better than others at recapturing more shredded materials for re-use.
Another option is to donate your used vehicle to a charity like Habitat for Humanity or the American Cancer Society and take a tax write-off. In most cases these charities will then turn around and scrap your vehicle, pocketing the value of materials and parts to put towards a worthy cause.
Regardless of how you go about salvaging your car, chances are that at least the steel will be repurposed in a way that will reduce the environmental burden of car ownership. But by putting in a little extra work and learning about recyclers in your area you can ensure that your car and its parts do the most good for the world.
Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.