Ten Facts About Vehicle Recycling

We list the top ten facts related to the car wrecking industry and vehicle recycling. We all know that cars are an integral part of our modern way of life. We use them to get to work, drive throughout New Zealand for holidays. The police won’t be able to enforce the law effectively if they didn’t have their fleet of cars. Ambulances in case of emergencies, the trucks that transport goods, the list goes on, are absolute essentials.
But what happens to cars once we can’t use them any more? Most people have little knowledge of the disposal process of end of life vehicles (ELVs) and their environmental consequences. Here we want to get you thinking about the impact you are having when you sell your old car and buy a new one.

  1. In the early 2000s about 75% of ELVs could be recycled and the remaining 25% was waste that went to landfills. The salvaged components were primarily metal.
  2. In 1995 the European Union had 160 million cars in use, that number increased to more than 180 million by 2001 and today it has roughly about 300 million vehicles in circulation. Even at the wishful 90% recycling capacity their waste output increased from 1.60 to 3 billion tons over the lifetime of the cars. We assumed a weight of 1 ton as the average weight for cars in this case. Removing a car to meet air polluting standards means nothing if they all end up in landfills.
  3. Cars are getting lighter which is great. A 100 kilogram reduction in weight of a car can save about 0.7 litres of fuel for every 100 kilometres travelled. But because new vehicles add new comfort gadgets (additional electronic equipment, cameras, navigation tablets, fancy seats) the disposal of cars is becoming more complex from the addition of new nonrecyclable material and not all the benefits of lighter vehicles are realized in practice.
  4. It is possible for cement plants and brick kilns to use the combustible parts of a car instead of fossil fuels and trees
  5. Ethylene glycol is an odourless and colourless liquid used as an antifreeze and found in car coolant fluid. Glycol can be separated from water by distillation to be reused for coolant and even as a solvent in paint.
  6. Just before a car is about to be scrapped it has about ten litres of fuel remaining in its fuel tank.
  7. This fact is straight forward. ELV material composition has been continuously changing over time as manufacturers introduce measures to reduce carbon emissions. Nothing is constant in life!
  8. The price for wrecked and written off cars reached it lowest at the height of the Corona virus pandemic during March and May 2020 simply because the demand for steel dropped to its lowest in five years.
  9. This fact is related to fact 8. Reports from around the world show that used car sales rose in the the second half of 2020. This pushed prices of scrap cars higher as wreckers compete for fewer end of life cars.
  10. In 2007 and 2009 the New Zealand Ministry of Transport held two vehicle scrappage trials. The 2007 trial in Auckland was deemed successful and cost the tax payers $400 per vehicle but the 2009 trial conducted in Wellington and Christchurch did not receive sufficient numbers of vehicles (they should have paid end of life vehicles owners more!).

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