As we gear up for a return to school, we wanted to share this guest post written by student & environment-advocate, Gabe Vargas.
“It’s no secret that cars are an important tool in our modern society. They take us to work, home, and school. They let us go where we want to go, whenever we want. However, they also take a huge toll on our planet. In order to lessen the burden for Mother Nature, the ideal choice is to get rid of our personal vehicles. We can walk, bike, or even skate to our destinations. In Copenhagen, for example, 56% of citizens ride their bikes, versus 14% that utilize cars. Unfortunately, this isn’t a feasible method for many places in the United States. That’s where vehicle recycling comes into play.
The Unfortunate Nature of Car Waste
Cars, whether at the beginning or end of their life cycles, contribute to environmental pollution in a variety of ways. Besides taking up a vast amount of space, they also harm the natural biome. Some major examples of this include:
- contributing to air pollutants such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and greenhouse gases
- oil pollution in bodies of water
- air pollution when manufacturing/destroying the vehicle
Whether a car is in production, in use, or sitting in a lot, it’s polluting the environment in some way. In fact, cars in the United States contribute to nearly half of nitrogen oxides in our air. With thirteen million new cars in production each year, our planet is threatened day after day. By creating more and more methods of vehicular transportation, we are only destroying the environment further. It’s only a matter of time before pollution rises to unbearable amounts for the world as we know it. Luckily, a solution has made itself available.
An Accessible Answer
Vehicle recycling is the act of taking old cars and dismantling them for parts. Each part is then used and repurposed in a brand-new way, often in the creation of another car. I was able to contact SellMax Cash For Cars in Charlotte, who provided me with the following information about vehicle recycling:
- Nearly 80% of each vehicle can be recycled into something new.
- Twelve million cars are recycled each year.
- With vehicle recycling, around eighty-five million barrels of oil are saved per year.
- Thirteen million new vehicles are made with recycled cars each year.
When vehicles are recycled, the remaining parts are used in a variety of ways. Metals and scrap parts can be used in artwork, new cars, home furnishings, lighting, and even packaging. Wheels and tires can be repurposed as playground elements, garden beds, railway lines, and even turf. Car batteries contain lead, which can be removed and used in new batteries.
In addition to this, car recycling contributes almost $25 billion per year to the GDP. Recycled steel is also cheaper than normal steel, saving money for the countries that utilize the material. This means that, along with being better for our world, this industry also fuels our economy in the process. It’s a win-win situation.
What exactly are the benefits of vehicle recycling in the natural world? There are quite a few.
One critical benefit is energy usage. It turns out that recycling metal actually uses 74% less energy than making new steel. The steel industry is able to save enough to power almost seventeen million households for an entire year. By turning over the scrapped parts for new vehicles, less energy is taken from the environment per new car manufactured. Nature is able to recharge in a way that would otherwise be taken up by the ever-growing car industry.
Vehicle recycling also benefits:
- air quality, by ridding the atmosphere of waste produced as a byproduct of refining steel
- soil quality, by keeping cars out of landfills and preventing chemical leakage into the earth
- habitat preservation, by keeping junked cars out of natural biomes that provide homes for hundreds of animals
- water quality, by preventing runoff that comes from erosion in steel mining for car product
These facts, among many others, are just a small snippet of why car recycling is so great for our world. The environment benefits tremendously from one small choice we can make as human beings and occupants of earth
What Can You Do?
How can you contribute to vehicle recycling? Isn’t it a complicated process? Not at all. Recycling your vehicle is as easy as a search on the internet. Many places will pay you to recycle your car, and all you need to do is call them. It’s a simple trade that will make the world of a difference.
In addition, you can also recycle your battery separately. There are many resources online, such as www.recyclingmybattery.com, that can point you in the right direction. Almost any part of your car that doesn’t function anymore can be used in some capacity, from tires to broken windshield wipers, to shattered windshields.
Make a Lasting Impact
Although we use them every single day, it’s often hard to see just how much damage cars are doing to our world until it’s too late. Car recycling is a simple way that you can impact the future of our environment on a much larger scale. Walking, biking, and even running are also great ways to help the earth without giving up your vehicle.
We have a long way to go in reversing the damage that has been done to this beautiful world. Every day, we can help to move that progress forward and change the environment we live in. Vehicle recycling is an incredible way to start making this incredible home a cleaner and healthier place to live.
Gabe Vargas is a Master’s student at UCSD who has been passionate about bettering the planet from a young age. He believes the only way to create change is to do something every day to make that change happen. Gabe writes to help create this change. During his spare time, he enjoys all that San Diego has to offer. This includes going on runs through the trails, and of course hanging out at the wonderful beaches.”