Around 10 million cars and trucks are dumped every year. However, before you start beating yourself up over it, consider this: 95% of “retired” cars are sent directly to one of the 7,000 vehicle recycling facilities located across the country, and 75% of their parts are completely recycled, making cars the most recycled product in the world.
Metal components like the frame can be dismantled and repurposed along with many other automobile scrap components. Unfortunately, not everything can be recycled. Therefore, a slightly different strategy is required to prevent them from ending up in landfills.
What Parts Of A Car Cannot Be Recycled?
While many parts of a car can be recycled, some components cannot be recycled or are difficult to recycle. Some examples include:
Tires are a common component of vehicles that can pose challenges when it comes to recycling. Tires are composed of a complex mix of materials, including rubber, steel, and synthetic fibres, which can make them difficult to recycle.
However, there are several ways in which tires can be recycled or repurposed:
- Shredding: Tires can be shredded into small pieces, which can be used as a fuel source in industrial processes or as a material for road construction.
- Pyrolysis: In this process, tires are heated in the absence of oxygen to break down the rubber into oil and gas. The resulting products can be used as fuel or feedstock for other chemical processes.
- Devulcanization: This process involves breaking down the sulphur bonds in the rubber to make it more pliable and easier to reuse. Devulcanized rubber can be used in a variety of applications, including new tire production.
- Retreading: Retreading involves removing the worn tread from a tire and applying a new layer of rubber to extend its life. Retreaded tires can be used in a variety of applications, including truck and aircraft tires.
- Rubberized asphalt: Ground-up rubber from tires can be added to asphalt to create a more durable and resilient road surface.
It’s important to properly dispose of tires to prevent them from becoming environmental hazards. In many areas, some facilities accept used tires for recycling or proper disposal.
Windshields are another component of cars that can be challenging to recycle due to their composition. Most modern windshields are made of a type of glass called laminated glass, which is a sandwich of two layers of glass with a layer of plastic film in between. This construction makes the windshield durable and shatter-resistant, but it also makes it difficult to recycle.
However, there are some ways in which windshields can be recycled or repurposed:
- Recycling: Some companies have developed processes for recycling laminated glass windshields. The process involves separating the glass from the plastic film and then recycling each component separately.
- Upcycling: Old windshields can be upcycled into a variety of products, such as glassware, jewellery, or decorative items. Glass from windshields can be melted down and reshaped into new products.
- Road construction: Crushed glass from windshields can be used as a substitute for sand in road construction.
- Landfill cover: Ground-up glass from windshields can be used as a cover material for landfills, helping to prevent contamination of groundwater.
It’s worth noting that recycling options for windshields may vary depending on the location and availability of facilities that can process them. In some cases, the best option for an old windshield may be to properly dispose of it, either through a recycling program or at a designated facility.
Upholstery, the fabric or leather used to cover car seats, can generally be recycled. However, the foam padding underneath the upholstery can be more difficult to recycle due to its chemical composition.
There are several ways in which upholstery can be recycled:
- Textile recycling: Upholstery made of fabric can be recycled through textile recycling programs, which involve sorting the material by type and colour, and then breaking it down into fibres to make new products.
- Leather recycling: Leather upholstery can be recycled through specialized leather recycling programs, which involve breaking down the leather into fibres to make new products.
- Upcycling: Upholstery can also be upcycled into new products, such as bags, pillows, or clothing.
As for the foam padding underneath the upholstery, it can be challenging to recycle due to its chemical composition. However, some facilities can shred the foam and then use it as a filler material in products such as carpet padding or insulation. In some cases, the foam may be landfilled or incinerated, which is not the most environmentally friendly option.
Overall, while upholstery can be recycled, it’s important to properly dispose of it at the end of its life to minimize its environmental impact. Many recycling programs and facilities accept upholstery for recycling or proper disposal.
Car batteries are recyclable, and it’s essential to recycle them properly to prevent environmental harm from their toxic components. Car batteries contain lead, which is a toxic metal that can cause environmental damage if not properly disposed of.
Here are the general steps of car battery recycling:
- Collection: Used car batteries can be collected by recycling facilities or automotive retailers, which often have programs in place to accept them.
- Breaking down: The batteries are broken down into their parts, including lead, plastic, and acid.
- Separation: The lead and plastic components are separated and sent for further processing. The acid is neutralized with an alkaline substance.
- Smelting: The lead is melted down and purified, then used to make new batteries or other products.
- Plastic recycling: The plastic components are shredded and melted down to make new plastic products.
Recycling car batteries not only helps prevent environmental harm but also conserves valuable resources. The lead and plastic components can be reused to make new products, reducing the need for virgin materials. Many recycling programs and facilities accept car batteries for recycling or proper disposal, and it’s essential to make use of them to minimize the environmental impact of car batteries.
Airbags are an important safety feature in cars that can save lives in the event of an accident. However, once they have deployed, they need to be replaced, and the old airbags can pose an environmental hazard if not properly disposed of.
The components of an airbag can vary depending on the make and model of the car, but generally, they contain several materials that can be recycled or repurposed, including:
- Nylon or polyester fabric: Airbags are made from strong synthetic fabrics, which can be recycled or upcycled into new products.
- Inflator: The inflator in an airbag contains metal components, such as aluminium and steel, which can be recycled.
- Electronic components: Airbags may also contain electronic components, such as sensors or wires, which can be recycled or repurposed.
Proper disposal of airbags is crucial to prevent environmental harm. Many car manufacturers have programs in place to accept and recycle old airbags. It’s important to follow these programs or to contact a professional for proper disposal, as airbags contain explosive material that can be dangerous if mishandled.
Overall, while the materials in airbags can be recycled or repurposed, it’s important to handle them safely to prevent injury and environmental damage.
It’s important to note that while some parts of a car may not be recyclable, they can still be properly disposed of to minimize their environmental impact. Many car manufacturers and recycling facilities have programs in place to ensure that end-of-life vehicles are disposed of responsibly.
In conclusion, many components of cars can be recycled, reused, or repurposed to reduce their environmental impact and conserve valuable resources. However, some components, such as engine oil and tires, can be challenging to recycle or dispose of properly. Therefore, it’s essential to properly dispose of all car components at the end of their life to minimize their environmental impact. Many recycling programs and facilities exist to accept car components for recycling or proper disposal, and it’s crucial to make use of them to help protect the environment.
By reducing waste and recycling car components, we can help to create a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.
Visit website of Old Cars Removed if you need help in recycling your car.