Cars are known to depreciate steadily as they get older, but even at the end of their life, they still have value. Whether it has been abandoned, confiscated, crashed or sold to the scrapyard, a car contains thousands of valuable parts for recycling companies.
More than 80% of a car can be recycled – from the metal and tyres to battery components and copper wire. Here’s how the process of recycling a car begins.
Working car parts are first salvaged
When a car is sent to the recycling facility, it is assessed to see what components can be salvaged. Body panels that are in good condition can be resold as whole spare parts to automotive dealers.
Working batteries can be salvaged. Wheels and tyres that are in good shape can be sold as spares. Old tyres are recycled into new rubber materials. The damaged items can be recycled, broken down or scrapped entirely, depending on their condition.
All fluids are drained and removed, including brake fluid, engine coolant, petrol and oil. Used car oil can be recycled and refined into new oil, or it can be sold to industries that burn oil in the manufacturing process.
Non-reusable parts are processed appropriately
Hazardous materials such as battery acid must be contained and disposed of carefully to prevent environmental damage. The seats and material trim are often salvaged and sold as spares, but if they are in a bad condition, they are shredded. Once the vehicle is stripped bare of the valuable materials and junk plastic, it is pressed and shredded.
The metal shards are separated from one another using a strong electromagnet and compressed air. Any plastic, glass or fabric left in the car will be separated from the metal and sent to landfill. Some plastic components can be recycled and there is a new push to using more recycled plastics in car interiors. The scrap metal parts are recycled.
Cars retain value to the end of their life
Scrap cars contain valuable parts and components that can be resold or recycled into new materials. The rest of the junk parts are sent to a landfill or to a hazardous waste containment facility.
A car is always an asset, even at the end of its life. New materials and new technologies mean that more scrap parts are recycled and reused, and more new cars are using recycled materials.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
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