Whether your car has gotten too old to fix or you’ve been in an accident and it’s no longer drivable, deciding what comes next for your vehicle can be difficult. If your car has been totaled, selling it or trading it in may not be an option, or may not be worth the effort.
Recycling your junk car is a great option for you, fellow consumers, and the environment. Cars that are no longer usable are recycled by professionals who break them down to repurpose their working parts. This process also involves the removal of materials that need to be recycled or properly disposed of, some of which are toxic to people and the planet and are best kept out of landfills.
How Recycling Benefits You
One of the most direct ways recycling benefits you is saving you money. Having a car that no longer drives may be taken to your local landfill but a fee be involved.
Many landfills have a small fee for taking on such difficult refuse, and transporting the car there may incur you further fees. However, many car recycling facilities will pay you for the salvageable materials in your car. Most cars fetch an average of $150 to $500, which can be a helpful payment following an accident or when you’re facing new monthly car payments.
Benefits to Others
Car maintenance and repairs can be expensive, and the cost of new parts can be a major factor. One way to mitigate this expense is by buying recycled car parts. The more people who recycle their cars, the more of these recycled components are available on the market for others to purchase.
Recycling your car also benefits the economy. The car recycling industry is a rapidly growing one, from local scrap yards all the way up to major companies like GM making changes in their manufacturing processes to rely on recycled materials and encourage their customers to recycle their cars when the time comes.
With more people prioritizing the environment and turning to this option, more jobs are being created in an industry that is centered around protecting the planet.
The manufacturing process for vehicles is a strenuous one for the Earth. The average car weighs nearly 3,000 pounds, and it’s made up of steel, glass, plastic, textiles, as well as precious metals and hazardous chemicals like coolants.
The extraction and refinement of these materials has a significant environmental and human toll. Recycling the materials in cars lessens the demand for these potentially dangerous manufacturing processes.
Beyond that, the impact cars have when disposed of in landfills rather than recycled is alarming. The presence of cars in landfills has been associated with increased landfill fires, which are dangerous as well as air pollutants.
Cars also contain toxic materials that leach into the soil, creating long-lasting problems for local communities and wildlife. Toxins in the soil may easily end up in water supplies, making water unsafe for drinking, swimming, or fishing. Even when non-toxic, the materials in cars will take thousands of years to degrade, if they ever do.
Keeping cars out of landfills makes landfills safer, and lets them stay smaller for longer. Safely operating a landfill is much easier when there isn’t large debris such as disposed-of cars.
There are thousands of active landfills in the United States, with many thousands more already full and discontinued. The disposal of cars in landfills causes them to fill up faster, contributing to the necessity to use even more land to hold waste.
Landfills, in an ideal scenario, should contain materials that couldn’t possibly be repurposed or recycled in any way. Up to 80 percent of the parts in an average junk car are reusable, meaning old cars are very recyclable. With how much space even one car takes up in a landfill, the decision to recycle your car is one with a very tangible impact.
While giving up your car may be difficult — be it the loss of a car you had a lot of good times in, or the emotional or physical toll of an accident — the decision regarding what you do with it can at least be something to feel good about. You can avoid the fees of disposing of your car and potentially make some money while you’re at it. You’ll also be doing a service to fellow consumers by making car repairs less of a burden.
The automotive recycling industry provides billions of dollars to the economy every year and employs around 100,000 people. Knowing you’re helping create jobs in a growing industry while making the jobs of sanitation engineers at landfills safer is a great feeling.
There is also comfort in knowing you are helping make the air, land, and water for future generations cleaner and safer by recycling your car. Taking up less space in landfills is an added bonus — no landscape is improved by a landfill! You’ll be doing yourself and the world a great service by choosing to recycle when your car has reached the end of its road.