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When it’s time to trade in your old car for a new one, have you ever stopped to consider how much of your car can be recycled? With landfill sites at capacity and the desperate need for all of us to make an effort to stop polluting our planet, it’s an important thing to consider.
Luckily, over 95% of end-of-life vehicles are recycled each year across the EU, which can have significant environmental and economic benefits. In fact, the automobile recycling industry is rapidly growing and is now a source of employment for thousands of people.
The main goal within the industry is to recycle as much of each vehicle as possible, with new technologies and methods constantly being developed to do so. So, as it stands today, how much of your car can be recycled?
The majority of our cars are typically made from steel. This includes the chassis and main structure of the car, the doors, engine components, suspension and more. As steel is such a strong and resilient material, its uses are vast.
However, the process of manufacturing steel is very resource-intensive, requiring temperatures of 2700°F just to reach its melting point. As a result, it’s important that we reuse steel wherever possible. This is becoming increasingly common in cars, as many parts can be used straight away in other vehicles without the need to melt anything down.
Similarly, undamaged sheets of glass can go on to be reused in other cars, such as the windscreen and windows. If they are not in a suitable condition to be reused, they can also be stripped of their plastic coatings and recycled. This previously was tricky to do, but technology has come a long way, now allowing the glass to be given a second life.
It’s common to assume that the oil from car engines is far too dirty to be recycled, but it can easily be filtered and cleaned in order to be reused. In fact, sending used engine oil to landfill can be highly detrimental to our environment, releasing toxic elements into the ground and posing a threat to wildlife. Instead, it can be sent to a specialist facility where it can be cleaned and recycled.
Much of the interior of cars can be directly reused, such as the seats, steering wheel, mats and more. Often these components simply require cleaning or small repairs in order to be reused, saving resources and money compared to manufacturing new ones.
EU regulations state that 95% of a scrapped vehicle must be recycled, reused or recovered, meaning that we are well on our way towards a greener future. Automobile recycling has come a long way and continues to evolve every day, searching for new ways to encourage recycling versus disposal of vehicle components. It's time to embrace the future, and we all need to do our part to protect the environment as much as possible.