In this current time where recycling is very high on the priority list, people try to recycle and reuse as much as possible.
People have been very inventive in finding uses for most materials and products that are no longer needed. There is even a use for chewing gum that has been chewed and spit out (recycled chewing gum makes great bins and other plastic products). And with information now being readily available people like to know what happens with their rubbish. Councils try to do their part in treating the rubbish that is collected from us. The car industry definitely does their part.
There are many reasons why a car can no longer be on the road. These cars could have been in an accident and be beyond repair. Or maybe it is an older car that will no longer pass the MOT. And thus, is no longer safe to drive. Instead of leaving these cars somewhere on the side of a yard or a back garden, the vehicles are now often “adopted” and taken through the entire process of recycling, reusing and disposing of.
So, what happens with scrap cars?
Only 2% of the entire vehicle cannot be recycled. These materials will be disposed of with the environment in mind and under current EU laws. The other 98% of the vehicle will be recycled and reused.
First, the cars need to be decontaminated. This means all liquids are removed (oil, coolant and fuel). These liquids are kept separately and will be further processed.
Then items like batteries, airbags, catalyst, reservoirs and gases are removed. Parts of these are recycled. For example, the plastic of the batteries is re-used in plastic chairs and bins.
Many items are still useable and are sold on the second-hand market. Second-hand spare parts are readily available and will save you money.
There are also items that with a little TLC and creativity can be turned into an item for a totally different use. A back seat can be upcycled to a sofa. Or a seatbelt can be changed into a belt. People are very inventive, especially when trying to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.
Then there are the items that will be recycled and reworked. Tyres that are no longer usable on the road are used in the production of for example solid wheels for lawn mowers, asphalt pavements, athletic fields, rubber bands, designer bags and toys.
All glass is recycled and used for the production of for example glasses, vases and figurines. In this process, the UV protection that is incorporated in the car windows is still visible as the glass has a slight blue-greenish colour.
After all these processes the remainder of the car is crushed and shredded. At this point, all basic materials are separated. Metal and plastic will be used again, often even in the car industry. So there is a substantial chance that your new car is partly made with materials from recycled cars.