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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Green Yards scrap toxic liquids

This isn’t your parents’ salvage yard.

There aren’t any cars or trucks waiting to be stripped down or scalped for parts. The hundreds of cars out back are already bone dry, with letters and numbers scribbled on them detailing when they were drained and plugged.

Alongside are three giant concrete cylinders holding 55-gallon plastic drums containing oil and antifreeze.

Eric “Rick” Sojka, owner of Tiny’s Garage, runs one of the state’s 21 Green Yards, a term for auto salvage yards that meet higher standards regarding the storage and disposal of the toxic fluids sloshing inside cars and trucks that have reached their “end of life.”

“Green Yards is a change in the way you think, in the way you behave,” Sojka said. “There’s an idealism.”

Gone are the days when cars brimming with toxic liquids sat for months or years in a yard, untouched unless someone needed a fender or catalytic converter, as their gas tanks and oil pans rusted away and let the contents empty onto the ground, or maybe onto a sheet of cardboard.

Bad things can happen if those materials aren’t properly taken care of. There are several Superfund sites in southern New Hampshire at which wells were contaminated by industrial fluids that had seeped into groundwater.

Last month, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services issued a cease-and-desist order to ASAP Auto Salvage in Kingston, citing it for environmental violations, including dumping oil on the ground.

Fluids such as oil, gas and antifreeze aren’t the only concern from old cars. There are also transmission, power steering and brake fluids, and mercury in certain switches, along with other heavy metals such as chromium, zinc, copper, nickel, aluminum and arsenic. Plus, lead is in Anti Brake System sensors and batteries, wheel weights and battery cable ends. There are chlorofluorocarbons and Freon in air-conditioning systems, sodium azide in airbags and asbestos in brake shoes, according to a DES fact sheet.

All of them must be “evacuated” from each vehicle, stored and labeled, labeled, and labeled again, so they can be disposed of.

Although most salvage yards now drain and plug cars, Sojka wants to know what happens to the liquids after that. No one knows, unless they come from a Green Yard.

Here are some of the potential pollutants in “end of life” cars:

• Gasoline.
• Battery – lead and acid.
• Freon from air-conditioning units.
• Brake fluid.
• Transmission fluid.
• Oil.
• Windshield washer fluid.
• Power steering fluid.
• Differential fluid.
• Antifreeze.
• Heavy metals – mercury, chromium, zinc, copper, nickel, aluminum, arsenic, lead.

When the spent fluids are trucked out of a Green Yard, either by hazardous-waste disposal companies or licensed reusers of things such as motor oil, detailed records are kept to account for each ounce.

And the program works, Sojka said.

“You spill more in one accident than a Green Yard does in a year,” he said. “Green Yards are the future, the leading edge. Most people don’t realize what happens. We’ve been the unseen recyclers of the Earth.”

Close to 500,000 vehicles in New Hampshire are a decade old and will soon be recycled.

Cars and trucks are the most recycled products in the country, with 95 percent of them being scrapped, reused and recycled. About 10 million of them are recycled in North America annually. New Hampshire’s 150 salvage yards account for about 50,000 vehicles, according to a DES press release.

The DES Waste Programs Bureau has run Green Yards as a pilot program since 2002.

The salvage yards that enroll in the program follow all the state and federal regulations all yards are supposed to follow, but they also hold themselves to higher standards in terms of safety, the timeline by which a vehicle must be processed and the number of inspections state officials conduct, according to Sara Johnson, manager of the SES Pollution Prevention Program.

“They’ve gone above and beyond the call,” she said.

The Auto and Truck Recyclers of New Hampshire, an industry group for salvage yards, saw a need to improve fluid reclamation practices and contacted the DES to come up with ideas, Johnson said. Several sectors of DES got involved, and Green Yards were the result.

“Why? Because New Hampshire has groundwater,” she said. In fact, about 40 percent of the state’s residents get their water from the ground, as opposed to municipal water systems, she said, and many of the fluids in old cars can pollute those supplies.

“Salvage yards are very much an environmental issue,” Johnson said. A spill isn’t “just going to contaminate that property. It’s going to contaminate the neighbors’ property and move on from there.”

Sojka has been in the Green Yards program since it began and has worked with DES officials to help iron out what procedures work and which don’t.
“He is one of our best case studies,” Johnson said. “He really took the Green Yards to heart and made improvements really fast.”

Sojka said the standards are always evolving. The next revolution, he said, will be learning how to deal with hybrid vehicles as they reach their end of life.

“It’s very important,” he said. “Green Yards is the future for New Hampshire and for recycling. If it’s not going to a Green Yard, where is it going?”

By JOSEPH G. COTE, Staff Writer,

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

UK - ELV targets “will drive” post-shredder investment

An organisation set up to research ELV recovery and recycling has sought to allay fears that there may be a future lack of post-shredder capacity in the UK.

Post-shredder technology is needed to help reach European recycling and recovery targets for End of Life Vehicles

The Consortium for Automotive Recycling (CARE) - set up by car manufacturers and dismantlers - told on Friday that the EU's 95% target for ELV recycling and reuse by 2015 would drive the development of sufficient capacity to allow both independent and contracted treatment facilities to reach their recycling goals.
CARE chairman Peter Stokes said: "The 95% target will stimulate those post-shredder targets, the shredder doesn't discriminate between materials that are from one of the service provider's Authorised Treatment Facilities and those that aren't."

The comments come after Duncan Wemyss, secretary of the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers' Association warned that there was a Europe-wide lack of capacity for separating materials such as glass and plastics after the shredding process.

A lack of post-shredder capacity to allow the recycling and recovery of non-metals from ELVs could seriously hamper the UK's ability to reach the targets is has been set under the EU's ELV Directive.

UK vehicle manufacturers must achieve a 95% recycling and reuse rate for their own-brand ('own-marque') ELVs by 2015 as well as providing a network of ATFs offering free take-back of cars, dispensing their responsibilities via one of two service providers - Autogreen and Cartakeback.

However, as many as 940 of the UK's 1,200 ATFs are not contracted to one of those two service providers, but must still achieve a 95% recovery rate by 2015, and it was these facilities who Mr Wemyss suggested were facing difficulties in recycling significantly above the 75% of a car which is generally made of metal.

Earlier this year, BERR indicated that car manufacturers had met their 85% recycling target for 2006, but that non-contracted ATFs looked to have fallen short (see story), leading to the concerns over post-shredder capacity.

But, Mr Stokes, who is also Vehicle Compliance Manager at Volkswagen, explained that competition would ensure that vehicle shredders would provide sufficient post-shredder technology to allow independent ATFs to reach their targets, with those that didn't offer the services losing out on the smaller dismantlers' business.

"As uncontracted ATF's have a responsibility to hit 95% they will want to send their hulks to shredders which can help them hit their target, this is what will drive investment," he said.

Mr Stokes added that the post-shredder technology to allow the targets to be reached was available, pointing to Volkswagen's SiCon technology as having demonstrated that it was possible to recover 95% of a car.

The process recovers materials including hard plastic, rubber, textiles, glass and metal residues from ELVs to be reused in place of primary raw materials, with industrial plants that will use technology currently in planning stages.

Mr Stokes also commented on the large number of ELVs that are scrapped without passing through an ATF, a situation that has added to calls for the introduction of a mandatory Certificate of Destruction.

As uncontracted ATF's have a responsibility to hit 95% they will want to send their hulks to shredders which can help them hit their target, this is what will drive investment
Peter Stokes, CARE
Vehicle dismantlers that aren't registered as an ATF are able to obtain ELVs by getting their owners' to simply tick part of the V5 form on their car registration documents, marking it as scrapped without any further checks.

And, figures published by the DVLA last year indicated that, despite improvements, as many as half of cars scrapped in the UK in 2007 were dismantled without a Certificate being issued (see story).

Mr Stokes acknowledged that the V5 form "is the biggest issue we have at the moment", and explained that the main problem was a lack of "public awareness" of the need to use a registered dismantler and obtain a Certificate of Destruction.

He confirmed that "we are working with the DVLA" but explained that "there are some practical difficulties because the registration system is for more than cars and vans - for example scooters, bikes".

With those vehicles not subject to recovery targets, it could be argued that any mandatory Certificate of Destruction would be less relevant to them.

Mr Stokes suggested that a mandatory Certificate of Destruction to be combined with more government action to identify and eliminate unregistered dismantlers as representing the best route to ensure vehicles passed through the approved recovery system.

"If the Environment Agency were working harder to close those guys down, and they are working on it, that and the Certificate of Destruction would help to close that avenue down," he said.

But, he added that dismantlers and car owners would still find other ways to bypass the system, explaining that "you can't close all those loopholes down".

The low level of awareness among drivers of the need to take their ELV to a registered vehicle dismantler has been highlighted by, an initiative from metals recycler Sims Group which aims to provide drivers with the details of all ATFs that aren't contracted to one of the two service providers.

The scheme has claimed that drivers not using a licensed ATF are missing out on being paid roughly £50 per vehicle due to current metal prices, equivalent to £52 million a year in total.

Simon Palmer of said: "The fact that car owners can actually make a small profit by correctly recycling their old car is yet another reason for drivers to make sure they know how to dispose of their vehicle in line with the law."

He added: "As well as the financial reward, there is the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle has gone through the correct disposal process and you have been issued with the necessary paperwork."