Research shows that recycling vehicles can have a significant impact on the environment. With toxic air grabbing headline news in the UK media a timely piece of research has shown the importance ELVs and our industry has in dealing with this ever-growing problem.
A comprehensive study has taken place in Massachusetts, USA, that has looked into the impact of vehicles being recycled and its environmental impact. The findings which were sponsored by the Automotive Recyclers of Massachusetts (ARM) and carried out at Worcester Polytechnic Institute found that at least 2.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year was reduced by the areas automotive recyclers were when handling an estimated 165000 vehicles.
The research was conducted by looking into how reutilising specific car parts and the energy saved by recycling metals was offset by the need to mine and refine ores and new metals. Because of the uniqueness of the study, there was no initial data for the research team to base their study. Firstly, the team calculated the amount of metal required to produce domestic cars in 2015. Costs regarding smelting of raw and scrap metal were taken into consideration plus the production cost to assemble the vehicles. They also took into account the carbon cost of the general production of a vehicle by visiting the largest car production plant in the US. When the results were converted into kWh the final result was between 78,095,247 and 158,623,481 tonnes of carbon.
With the help of ARM, the team then visited several facilities to understand how the automotive dismantlers operated and to ask questions about the processes involved. A questionnaire was also sent out by ARM to ask its members to complete in order to find out the average amount of cars processed in the area. From their research, they were able to determine that approximately 165,000 vehicles were scrapped within the area. They also looked at the types of parts that were sold from the yards. From the survey, they found that the most common parts were wheels, doors, transmission rear lights, mirrors and engines. From this year they were able to determine a yearly average to add to their calculations.
Another variant that they added to their calculations was how the dismantlers were disposing or reusing materials. Refrigerants and antifreeze was being sold and petrol was being reused. They also took into consideration the environmental impact of recycling.
When comparing all of the results that they had researched they found that ARM was saving approximately 2.2 million tonnes a year. A significant amount and an indication to the role vehicle dismantlers play in helping the environment. Further findings involved the carbon footprint required to produce specific parts. It was noted that reusing engines and transmission had a considerable impact on reducing carbon dioxide. The difference between manufacturing and recycling individual wheels and tyres was not as great but when considering the volume of tyres and wheels that can be recycled, the importance to recycle these products become more significant. Complete findings from the research can be found here. armmass.com As a piece of research, the findings are quite significant especially when expanded to a countrywide or global scale. It shows the importance of a circular economy and the role vehicle recyclers play in dismantling vehicles to reduce the impact on the environment. It would be interesting if such research has been done in the UK and help promote the good work we do as an industry. Let us know your views on this topic, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org