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Thursday, December 31, 2009

LKQ Interview with American Recycler

Auto recycling is a crucial element of America’s recycling infrastructure as it oversees the end-of-life stage for millions of cars that are retired on an annual basis from the nation’s nearly 300 million vehicles.

Ensuring that it is economically viable and environmentally-friendly is essential to both recyclers and the general public, which at times does not recognize the full implications of having a system that dismantles vehicles to provide quality spare parts, provide steel mills with feedstock, recovers valuable non-ferrous metals and ensures that hazardous materials found in cars contaminate the environment.

Joseph Holsten, president and chief executive officer, LKQ Corporation, spoke with American Recycler about the current state of the industry.

Do you have any thoughts on methods to increase the percentage of the vehicle that can be recycled?

Holsten: At LKQ, we have a Zero Landfill Goal and are working hard to meet that target. On average, we are able to recycle more than 80 percent of total vehicle weight from the recycling of the metals, fluids and tires. The viability of recycling the plastic, glass, foam and fabric from vehicles remains a challenge. While the technology to recover post-shredder materials exists, the costs remain too high to support the collection, transport and processing of non-metal solid materials.

What more can be done to promote the sale of recycled oil and its use as an energy source?

Holsten: LKQ supports the use of recycled oil as an energy source. Every vehicle we purchase – and, last year, that meant more than 440,000 cars – is first processed through a fluid station where the fluids, including motor oil, are separately removed and, whenever possible, reused. For example, many of our salvage yards heat their plants with EPA-approved oil furnaces. Each of our recycling facilities sells the used oil it collects to recycling companies that process it for heating and other purposes.

What is being done to promote the sale of recovered fluids to recyclers and fluid manufacturers?

Holsten: The collection and recycling of fluids from vehicles is driven by regulatory constraints, the inherent value of the fluids for reuse, and current recycling and fluid management practices. LKQ collects fluids and utilizes cost effective, approved approaches for treatment, reuse, recycling and energy recovery. The best option for fluid treatment is often driven by market demand, geography, and availability of the services of recycling companies.

What type of federal and state legislation is needed to help the industry?

Holsten: The recycling of vehicles for parts, metals and fluids, makes sense. Why use scarce resources and subject the environment to additional emissions in order to create more of what we already have? Legislation works best when the objectives of the free market and public policy coincide and the economics of recycling are aligned with what is good for the environment.

We feel strongly that in order to maintain the safety of the motoring public and to protect the environment only qualified buyers should have access to purchase salvaged vehicles at the auctions. We also have advocated in support of state compliance with the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or NMVTIS. NMVTIS is an important industry program that tracks the transfer of vehicles and helps protect consumers from purchasing unsafe and fraudulently obtained vehicles.

What action can the industry take to increase the percentage of a vehicle that can be recycled?

Holsten: To increase the recyclable portion of vehicles, we need viable options for recycling plastic, glass and foam materials. One approach that would support improving the supply of recycled plastics would be to work with vehicle manufacturers on product designs that encourage the use of plastics that are compatible for easier recycling...

For the full article go to...

by Irwin Rapopor for American Recycler

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recovering Plastics from Retired Vehicles

What will happen to your car at the end of its useful life? Will it be buried or burned? Most of it will likely be recycled. In fact, vehicles are among the most recycled consumer products. Much of your vehicle’s steel and other metals will probably be recovered and turned into structural materials for new cars. Novel technologies developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory will soon enable industry to economically recover plastics from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) for making new auto parts such as spare tire covers, steering column covers, and battery trays. Automotive parts (steering column covers) made with recycled plastics recovered from end-of-life-vehicles.

For years vehicle manufacturers have been designing and building new cars and trucks with the goal that structural materials in ELVs will be recycled, reducing the flow of material into the solid-waste stream. At the same time, automakers must ensure that the design materials selected for their ability to be recycled do not impair the safety, reliability, and performance of the completed vehicle.

In the United States between 12 and 15 million vehicles reach the end of their useful life each year. After dismantlers are through removing parts from ELVs for resale or remanufacturing, the vehicle hulks are shredded along with other metal-containing products, such as home appliances, electronic devices, and demolition debris. The shredders recover more than 95% of the metals in the shredded material and produce enough steel for 13 million new automobiles every year. This $10 billion, market- driven, North American vehicle recycling industry provides more than 100,000 jobs, benefiting the economy, reducing energy use for vehicle manufacture, and protecting the environment from contamination by metals. The remaining metals and nonmetallic materials, known as shredder residue, are shipped to landfills at a rate of 5 million tons a year in the United States alone.

Shredder residue contains polymers and residual metals that, if recovered, can be recycled profitably. As vehicles become smaller and lighter to improve fuel economy, the manufacturers will incorporate relatively higher percentages of lightweight, nonmetallic materials.

The U.S. government and industry have partnered to devise economical methods for recovering valuable contents from shredder residue. One new technology, developed at Argonne National Laboratory, can separate many types of polymers from the residue with a purity of 95% at a yield never before attained in the recycling industry.

Most retired vehicles begin their journey at a vehicle dismantling facility that recovers usable parts for resale. The remaining hulks go to a shredding facility for recovery of recyclable metals. Rather than being sent to a landfill, the shredder residue can now be fed to recovery facilities using the new Argonne technology, which combines mechanical and flotation separation processes to produce individual plastics that can be reused or recycled.

In the first step of the process, mechanical separation concentrates the plastics into a manageable fraction and conventional sink or float techniques separate the plastic concentrate based on differences in density. Individual plastics are then separated using froth flotation, a process for separating water- shedding (hydrophobic) materials from water-attracting (hydrophilic) materials.

The typical waste stream generated by shredders contains about 25% to 40% recoverable polymers, including polypropylene, polyethylene, rubber foam acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and high-impact polystyrene (HIPS). Plastics such as ABS and HIPS are readily separable from other plastics but not from each other because they share the same density. Fortunately, Argonne’s froth flotation technology adapted from the minerals processing industry can separate HIPS from ABS. Altered water chemistry enables an air bubble to attach to hydrophobic HIPS, lowering its apparent density relative to ABS. As a result, HIPS floats away from ABS, which sinks in the solution.

Argonne developed a 2-ton-per-hour pilot plant to determine optimal operating conditions and process economics. The national lab then evaluated potential business opportunities for specific recovery applications. As a result, Argonne is now working with a shredder to develop a 20-ton-per-hour pilot plant that performs both mechanical separation and froth flotation.

Argonne also worked with the United States Council for Automotive Research’s (USCAR’s) Vehicle Recycling Partnership and the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division under a cooperative research and development agreement structured by DOE to advance ELV recycling. Argonne is continuing to lead the way on plastics recycling through an onsite pilot recycling facility demonstrating this and other techniques for recycling these materials.

Vehicle Technologies Program Automotive Lightweighting Materials, Joseph A. Carpenter Technology Development Manager Vehicle Technologies Program U.S. Department of Energy (202) 586-1022

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Green Fees - Auto Recyclers Add Environmental Fee to Invoices

Auto recyclers spend a lot of money to make sure they meet environmental regulations. Now, some of them are getting that money back.

A "green" surcharge has appeared on some Canadian auto recycler invoices. This nominal amount is listed as an environmental fee, and so far has been very successful.

"What's occurred is that a couple of our members have posted signs that describe the things they do to make sure they're protecting the environment," explained Steve Fletcher, executive director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association ( "It's become a profit centre and has grown from word of mouth."

Fletcher saw the signs at three member companies in just one week. When he asked the recyclers, they said they expected a bit of "push back." But as it turned out, the additional fee was not even questioned.

"I think it's because we're used to paying fees for services associated with the environment," said Fletcher. "When they change your oil, they charge you a disposal fee. Other companies charge a transportation fee. It's accepted enough that it's not a hard thing to do."

Fletcher acknowledged this is not an OARA program; however, it does tie into OARA's agenda. "It did start as a cost recovery program and it's a successful one," he acknowledged. "But this is also a trend that we like. It reinforces what recyclers are doing for the environment. When you're telling people that we drain fluids, remove mercury switches, and so on, you're letting them know that we're being responsible. That is the basis of our Green Parts marketing program. But of course, we're not doing it out of the goodness of our hearts. We don't want to pollute our property. It also happens to be the law."

Any recyclers can add the surcharge since it's not an official program, according to Fletcher. They just need to post a sign, and then code it into their inventory system. There may be some training involved so employees add it as a line item number.

John Logel, owner of Logel's Auto Parts in Kitchener, Ontario, put the surcharge into effect three years ago.

"We took a close look at what we were being charged by other shops and what it was costing in environmental compliance," he explained. "The body shops and garages have their environmental fees. We implement our fee, with no complaints."

Logel's Auto Parts ( charge $2.99 (CAD) for the environmental fee. The average invoice is about $190 (CAD). To date, the environmental fee has mostly been used for retail customers. It's more difficult to use with wholesale accounts, he acknowledged.

"Eventually insurance companies and shops may accept the charge," he said. "Everyone is responsible for the environment in some manner."

"I'm only guessing," said Fletcher, "but I think it would also work in the United States. If the recycler operates a clean facility and it looks like he's taking action, I don't think it would be questioned. As long as the surcharges are kept at a token amount, I think it would be great."

The surcharge is not designed to compensate auto recyclers for their environmental investment. But it does affect the bottom line and gives a positive perception.

by Felicia Lowenstein Niven, UpFront Magazine, Autumn 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Asian initiatives supporting auto recycling challenges

Under the slogan of "Think about global environmental issues through car recycling", the Second Asian Automotive Environmental Forum (AAEF) was held from November 13 to 14, 2009, at Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. About 300 attendees from 12 countries joined the 2-day international event.

"When I heard the presentation from the Japanese side, I have found a light for the ways we can go in the Chinese market." "First of all, we need Asian-wide standards and regulations for car recycling." Such positive comments were heard from speakers of the Chinese and Korean side during the forum.

The forum was lead by Yu Jeongsoo, Associate Professor, Tohoku University Graduate School of International Cultural Studies and joined by representatives of carmakers and government bodies responsible for the environment, as well as universities and automobile recyclers in Asian countries. In addition, representatives came from the United States, Germany, Malaysia and Vietnam, suggesting growing attention to environmental issues associated with car recycling.

Guests from Japanese local governments included Mr. Shuichi Miura, Vice Governor, Miyagi Prefecture and Mr. Shuji Kasahara, Vice Mayor, Sendai City Government.

After the address made by Kiyoyuki Sakai, Representative Director, Japan ELV Recyclers Association, Gao Kai-sheng,
Secretary General, Shanghai Society of Automotive Engineers and Lee Sanguk, Chairman, Korea Automotive Recyclers Association delivered messages.

In the presentation session, Shishido Kazuya, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and Yoshiteru Sakaguchi,
Ministry of the Environment, introduced the results and current status of automobile recycling in Japan.

Professor Chen Ming, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Koo Yonghoe, Korea Automotive Recyclers Association made
their presentations. Gwee Bok Wee, Chairman, Malaysia Automotive Recyclers Association, pointed out that the Malaysian
government placed a ban on the import of used auto parts and so car users felt inconvenienced. Vietnamese speaker Dang Thi Phuong Thao also said that consumers increasingly buy used luxury cars such as American-made vehicles.

On the other hand, Jeff Schroder, Automotive Recyclers Association of the U.S., introduced the result of the sales of
used airbags. Backed up by the insurance companies, car owners can more easily find applicable used airbags for their cars by searching the web-based database.

As for the effect of CO2reduction by the use of recycled parts, Nobuo Shimizu, Japan Automotive Parts Recyclers Association, outlined the latest development of the industry-wide campaign for such efforts.

In the panel discussion, Hideharu Sakota, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, joined the session as a speaker.
In the second day of the forum, about 100 people participated in factory tours to local recyclers. They visited the facilities of
Imai Cars Co. in Iwanuma City, and Yoshimura Corp. in Kurihara City.

At the round-up session, the organizer announced that the Third Asian Automotive Environmental Forum will be held in
Shanghai, China during October 14 and 15 next year. "In China, about 6 to 7 million end-of-life-vehicles will be recycled a year from 2017," said Professor Chen Ming. The proper recycling processes and systems are must measures for that country, as well as other Asian countries. Vol. 22

Friday, November 27, 2009

Greenway ELV Processing

A green auto recycling video demonstrating one company's commitment to the environment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Environmental Stewards - Auto Recyclers

Automotive recycling serves a vital role in preserving natural resources and reducing the demand for scarce landfill space. In addition to conserving natural resources, automotive recycling plays an important role in reducing air and water pollution and solid waste generation.

Automotive recyclers must abide by stringent local and national regulations on dealing with waste generated by salvaged automobiles. Many individual automotive recycling companies also have instituted their own unique programs to further reduce the potential effects of harmful materials to their businesses, employees and the environment.

The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Fairfax, Va., has represented the business and environmental interests of the auto recycling industry since 1943. ARA encourages aggressive environmental management programs to assist member facilities in maintaining proper management techniques for fluid and solid waste materials generated from the disposal of motor vehicles. These programs include ARA’s Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) program, which certifies that participating automotive recycling facilities meet specified general business, environmental, safety, licensing and regulatory standards. ARA’s Gold Seal program is available only to those ARA members who have completed CAR certification. The Gold Seal program is intended to ensure excellence in customer satisfaction through improved customer service, quality parts with accurate descriptions, reliable on-time deliveries and written product warranties.

Given the magnitude of the recycling process and the amount of recyclable items, ARA often partners with like-minded entities to address specific issues. One such partnership resulted in the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Removal Program, which is designed to remove mercury convenience light switches from scrap vehicles before the vehicles are flattened, shredded and melted to make new steel.

Under this voluntary program, auto recyclers agree to remove, collect and manage the mercury switches from scrapped vehicles. According to data collected from the ELVS Mercury Switch Recovery Program, since 2006, 49 states have recovered a total of 2.3 million switches and nearly 5,000 pounds of mercury. Although this national voluntary program is expected to end this summer, national switch collection will run through 2017.

ARA also has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop the Environmental Compliance for Automotive Recyclers (ECAR) Center, a Web site at that promotes environmental compliance education, guidance and a cooperative use of resources throughout the automotive recycling industrial sector. It is designed to be a "one-stop shop" for all automotive dismantling and recycling operations.

The ECAR Tour portion of the Web site is designed to be a user-friendly, interactive tool that allows users to quickly access the environmental requirements that apply to more than 20 specific auto recycling issues for each individual state. Fact sheets are available on air bag cartridges, antifreeze, aqueous cleaning, lead-acid batteries, brake fluid, floor drains, gasoline and diesel fuel, hazardous wastes, mercury, used oil, oil filters, refrigerants (CFCs), septic tanks and disposal wells, shop towels, solvent cleaning, storm water, used and scrap tires, transmission fluid, vehicle crusher, wastewater and window cleaner.

Professional automotive recyclers use ECAR to find answers to questions such as:
• How do I know what an environmental inspector looks for at my facility?
• How can I better follow the rules so as not to jeopardize my business?
• If changes are necessary, can I actually save money by incorporating some of these modifications?

Visitors to ECAR also will find:
• Updates on relevant regulatory developments for the industry;
• Compliance tools and training;
• A place to ask compliance questions and get answers;
• Databases on technologies and techniques used in the industry;
• Links to other assistance providers, vendors and suppliers; and
• State resource locators for a wide range of topics to help find important state-specific environmental compliance information.

In the future, automotive recyclers will need to keep current on new requirements for recycling/disposing of the traditional auto fluids and parts as well as learn new methods to recycle alternative automobile fuels and new car body materials.

By Betsy Beckwith,

Friday, November 06, 2009

Retire Your Ride - Canada's Vehicle Recycling Program

What's in a name? Plenty if you wanted to compare Canada's efforts to the USA CARS program.

Retire Your Ride is the program in Canada comparable to the USA's Cash For Clunkers program. The concept is generally the same - remove older higher polluting vehicles, but the goals, finances, timeframes, participants and legacies are dramatically different. And the nicknames also help describe the philosophical differences between the two initiatives - Cash For Clunkers or Canada's Vehicle Recycling Program. Which do you think is doing a better job for auto recyclers?

Canada's program was born over 8 years ago when the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association partnered with the Clean Air Foundation (CAF) to consolidate our charity vehicle programs under one banner - Car Heaven. That program targeted pre-1996 running vehicles by offering incentives to their owners to voluntarily retire their vehicle. GM Canada eventually partnered with the program and offered $1,000 off of a new GM vehicle. The vehicles were all processed by members of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) association.

In conjunction with ARC, CAF approached Environment Canada to introduce a larger program and this led to Retire Your Ride. In Budget 2007, the federal government allocated $92 million over 3 years to retire pre-1996 vehicles and ensure that all vehicles entering the program were properly retired. They utilized ARC as the technical experts on the industry and we wrote the Code of Practice that all participants on the program must follow.

Today, vehicle donors can receive $300 cash, $500 bicycle discounts, transit discounts, autoshare rebates - a variety of modest incentives, some with a sustainable transportation bent to them Most interestingly, the auto manufacturers have jumped on board - with their own money - and are providing additional incentives of up to $3,000. So far Hyundai, GM, Ford, Chrysler and Volkswagon have all signed on and are aggressively promoting the program.

Like Cash For Clunkers, the media has our industry under a very positive spotlight. Some of the publicity is negative, but its universally about the program not auto recyclers - some people deem the $300 cash as too little to buy a new vehicle. And we agree - but the program was never established as a short term economic stimulus project. It was to engage Canadians to understand the environmental effect of their older vehicle, and if they wanted to retire it early, here is a program that will provide a modest reward and we will ensure the vehicle is properly retired by the proper industry.

In addition to media coverage, governments of all levels have taken an unprecedented look at our industry, and it has allowed our various legislative agendas to be pushed ahead faster. Never has it been easier to meet with high ranking politicians of all stripes to educate them on the problems and opportunities that abound in our industry. We are also having more and more first hand discussions with the auto makers themselves.

Because auto recyclers were intimately involved in establishing the program, and ARC continues to act in a consulting capacity to CAF and Environment Canada, we have succeeded in improving the industry, both in the short and long terms, our Members are processing more cars they can buy at the right price, and a legacy of educational resources and information have been developed.

ARC was originally contracted by Environment Canada to write the voluntary Code of Practice for auto recyclers to participate in the program. We were provided funding to deploy in-person training across Canada, and online training for recyclers to better understand that Code. We are also funded to deliver the auto recycler engagement portion of the program - to essentially "sell" the benefits of the program to auto recyclers, and indirectly to prevent non-recyclers from getting access to the program vehicles. Along the way we have provided innumerable media interviews and government debriefings. In short, Retire Your Ride has cemented ARC's public profile as the go-to group representing the industry.

From north of the US border, Cash For Clunkers looks like it has been a mixed blessing for auto recyclers and perhaps the American public and economy. Big dollars spent quickly can have unintended consequences that are often not healthy. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Now to the numbers - we are on track to retire about 60,000 vehicles across Canada in 2009 after only 9 months of activity, which compares well to the US numbers adjusting for population. But we will have spent 1/100th of the taxpayers money compared to the US experience, and the program will be running next year and probably the year after that. The vast majority of cars are processed by ARC Members, and we will have received millions of dollars of media coverage and lobbying opportunities. We are very happy with auto recycler benefits of Retire Your Ride.

This article has not meant to be a criticism of Cash For Clunkers or ARA's efforts to craft a win out of this opportunity. On the contrary, given that it was a short term, quickly conceived, stimulus project aimed at satisfying dealers and manufacturers - auto recyclers have done OK with the program. Canada has developed a slow starting program that is still building, and with ARC near the centre of it all, we can help make sure this is one of the biggest wins for our industry ever.

Retiring old cars helps environment and wallets

Getting rid of an old junky ride has never been easier.

Retire your ride, a program through the Government of Canada and the Clean Air Foundation, is a national vehicle recycling program. The program’s goal is simple, to get cars from 1995 or earlier off the streets in an effort to reduce air pollution.

According to the organization, a vehicle from 1995 or earlier emits 19 times more air pollution than a 2004 or newer vehicle. Yet, on average, 75 per cent of that vehicle can be recycled.

Now, with the retire your ride program, the government has thrown in an added incentive to take that old vehicle off the road.

“Clean Air Foundation has always worked to engage people to take environmental action. By rewarding them for making positive environmental choices we can drive massive change,” said Fatima Crerar, Executive Director of Clean Air Foundation.

Car owners who bring in their car from 1995 or earlier that is currently licensed and insured, and has been for the past six consecutive months, can receive a $300 cheque.

The stipulation for it to be licensed and insured is to help ensure that by participating, the owner is in fact taking an old car off the road.

“It’s a fantastic program, good for the environment and good for consumers” said Wally Dingman of Caughill Auto Wreckers.

Caughill Auto is a member of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers association (OARA), the industry association that administers the Retire Your Ride program in Ontario.

“OARA views the Retire Your Ride program as a huge boost for the industry by mandating a national Code of Practice to ensure these vehicles are recycled responsibly” said Dingman, chair of OARA.

Since February more than 15,000 cars have been permanently retired and recycled through the program, with 15,000 more applications currently in the system.

On average, there is are 160-200 applications processed a day, with the highest single one-day spike being 420.

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Caughill Auto on East and West Line is the only authorized Retire Your Ride facility.

“The process is very simple” said Dingman. “Complete the application form and provide proof of ownership and insurance and we will do the rest”

The $300 cheque is mailed directly to the applicant which can take from 4-6 weeks to receive.

For more information visit

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Salvage yard misconceptions addressed

Insurance companies have begun asking shops to use more salvage parts, which has led to even more interaction between the collision and salvage industries.

"So the shops need to adjust to that, and they have been," said Shawn Collins of AAA Auto Salvage in Twin Cities, Minn. "I see that they are starting to use more and accept that, but at the same time they are also starting to expect higher quality parts."

But many collision shops don't have a full understanding of how modern salvage yards work, which sometimes leads to conflicts and misunderstandings. In their two-part Wednesday afternoon session, "Getting the Most out of Recycled Parts," Collins and Eric Shulz of AAA Auto Salvage provided a virtual tour of how a salvage yard operates and provided tips on how to make the best use of recycled parts in a repair facility.

In the first part of the presentation, Collins and Shulz explained how salvage operations have changed over the years.

"It used to be the sales people at the counter would see the parts, and they were kind of doing everything," Collins said. "Now we have an inventory process, so before the car is dismantled everything is gone over and any issues with rust or damage are addressed at that point and entered into the computer. The salespeople don't see the part before it leaves. They rely on the inventory process to address any issues with the parts."

The salvage industry is governed by standards established primarily by the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA). ARA has instituted two programs, Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) and Gold Seal, which measure business practices, yard performance, customer service and other parameters.

There also are industry standards related to such things as what's included on an assembly. "You can tell, for example, if a trim panel is included with a door," Collins said. "There are certain rules that everybody should be following. A lot of shops just don't realize that."

ARA also has established inspection criteria. "You can communicate damage codes to the shop based on those guidelines," Collins said. "If the shop is sourcing parts online, they can see that code and know how much damage to expect on the part."

Collins and Shulz also explained the dismantling process, and what items are included in various assemblies.

"When you compare a used part to an OEM part, economically, the used part has an advantage," Collins said. "If you need the complete door and you have to buy that in a million pieces, it's going to cost a fortune. When you buy a used assembly it's got everything with it."

For shops to work effectively with salvage yards, they shouldn't order parts until they're sure those parts are needed, and make returns in a timely manner.

"Shops don't realize that there's a lot of labor involved in dismantling these cars," Collins said. "If a body shop orders a section, they don't take into consideration that we have to send a technician out there to cut off that section. If they want to return it, we've already invested a lot of labor in that section."

The second half of the presentation focused on helping shops make the best use of used parts.

"Sometimes you have vehicles where there are so many overlapping panels that it would be very difficult to utilize a used section," Collins said. "We're also running into issues with the new higher strength steels that have more heat sensitivity and can't be sectioned in certain areas."

Collins and Shulz also discussed other OEM techniques that are impacting salvage parts, like new adhesives and laser welds.

They also walked attendees through a sectioning procedure and talked about things that should be included in an estimate that many body shops miss, such as manufacturing inserts or sleeves, trim time, dealing with new foams, and repairing damage caused by removing newer adhesives.

By Brian Albright,

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Recyclers: Extend Clunker Destruction Deadline

Consumers Look To Save Money By Buying Cheap, Used Auto Parts

More than 700,000 drivers took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program. Now, drivers looking to save money on car repairs are cashing in too, with cheaper, used car parts.

Angelo Harris searched a rainy, south suburban auto recycling yard for a windshield.

"The part I need costs $100 at the dealers, $30 here," Harris said.

At the same recycler, Tony Fondren searched for a fuel pump for his truck.

"To get this done in a car dealership would be about $500. I can come here and do it myself, and just pay $80," Fondren said.

In this recession, car recyclers are a valuable resource for cash-strapped drivers. But consumers may lose the chance to save millions on used parts.

Under the Cash for Clunkers program, car recyclers must destroy the clunkers -- crush them -- within 180 days. That's not enough time, recyclers say, to remove and save all the valuable parts.

"The Cash for Clunker cars, they're nice because they have good parts that we can sell to people, at huge savings," said James Watson, vice president of ABC Auto Parts in Riverdale.

ABC Auto Parts alone received 1,050 clunkers, more than three times the number of cars they usually buy in a month. That created a backlog of cars that could be crushed before the parts are stripped out.

Consumers spend $22 billion a year on used car parts, largely because new parts are so costly.

Experts estimate it would cost four times the price of any new car to rebuild that car from scratch with new auto parts. Buying used parts saves at least 50 percent, sometimes much more.

Recyclers want the Cash for Clunkers destruction deadline extended up to a year, to ensure consumers aren't crushed along with the cars.

"These are high quality cars that have a lot of good used parts that people need to fix up their cars," Watson said. "And they will be lost, they definitely will be lost."

Of course, extending the deadline would help auto recyclers, too, giving them the opportunity to make more money by selling more parts. It's something both the Obama administration and Congress are mulling over.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Retired Cars

It seems as though everyone is talk ing about scrapping a vehicle these days. I think this is largely due to the hype that surrounded the American Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, better known as "Cash for Clunkers."

While the CARS program certainly demanded a lot of media attention and was a huge success in some respects, the Canadian program provides features and benefits that are at least equal to that of the American program, and may even be greater on a per capita basis.

Retire Your Ride is flourishing on a grand scale. To date the program has retired more than 15,000 older vehicles from Canada's roads, and reduced smog forming emissions by over 800 tons.

Canada's Retire Your Ride Program is an initiative of the Government of Can ada, the Clean Air Foundation, and its partners. The program is designed primarily as a mechanism to encourage the removal of older higher polluting vehicles from our roads and making sure they are responsibly recycled.

The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) is the national voice of the automotive recycling industry in Canada. The association has participated in development, and has been instrumental in providing input for the Retire Your Ride Program.

Steve Fletcher is the managing director of ARC. He says, "Retire Your Ride is all about the environment, both retiring high polluting vehicles and encouraging responsible recycling of those vehicles."

Personally, what I like most about the Canadian program is how it is set up for success and addresses all industry stakeholder concerns. The driving public now has an incen tive to scrap their 1995 or older model vehicle. As long as it is in running condition and has been registered and insured for the last six months, they can simply drop it off at an accredited auto recycler and receive a $300 "reward" for doing so. If that reward doesn't appeal, there are other incentives available. These include transit passes, bicycles, memberships in car sharing programs, and discounts on new and used vehicles.

Professional automotive recyclers play a key role in the disposal of these vehicles, as we are the ones who make sure that every vehicle scrapped under the Retire Your Ride program is dealt with in an en vironmentally friendly manner. The National Code of Practice was cre ated for Environment Canada by ARC. Those of us that are registered in the pro gram and have completed the training session on the National Code of Practice are helping to make the entire process seamless for all parties involved.


The Clean Air Foundation has fostered many pro-environmental programs. The people that make up the organization have shown that they truly under stand the very nature of automotive recyclers. This is especially true regard ing what we can bring to the table from a "Green" perspective.

With the vision of the Clean Air Foundation and the strong support from ARC and all call centres throughout the country, we are sure to retire at least 50,000 vehicles per year until March 31, 2011.

As Steve Fletcher says, "the Retire Your Ride program is based around a three year stable funding arrangement that sees Federal money leveraging other stakeholder's financial commitments."

While the $300 incentive may not seem like a lot of money, it is truly enough to make a profound impact on many Canadians who can appreciate the severity of the situation from not only a financial perspective but also an environmental perspective.

In terms of a stimulus package, the Retire Your Ride program is fully supportive of seeing manufactures "top-up" the $300 incentive to encourage the driving public to purchase a newer, more fuel efficient car, truck, or van.

Chrysler, Hyundai, GM, Volkswagen and Ford are all official automotive partners of the Retire Your Ride Program. These five manufactures offer additional incentives over and above the $300 incentive that comes from the government. These incentives come out of the company’s coffers. They're not taxpayer money.

Owners and managers of collision repair centres can help advance this cause by helping to educate the public on the pro -environmental initiatives of this program. It's also a great opportunity to educate them on the environmental and economic benefits of the re-using of car components in general.

The benefits of automotive recycling in general, and in particular the re-use of high-quality OEM vehicle components, are very important for the preservation of our precious natural resources. Central to the entire Retire Your Ride program is recognition of this fact. For this reason, I believe it is an appropriate vehicle retirement program and is one that should be supported. It promises good things for all stakeholders, as well as every person in Canada.

David Gold is the co-owner of Standard Auto Wreckers, an auto recycling facility with locations in Toronto, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Car recycling benefits all

When people think of recycling we many think of paper, cardboard or pop cans, but what about cars?

Ivan Mackey of Kool Country Towing / OK Tires has taken his business to a different level by attempting to keep as many cars out of landfills as he can.

Auto recycling is one of the biggest recyclers within the recycling business according to Ivan.

It is his goal that everything gets used nothing gets wasted from the vehicles that come through his business.

“The oil is removed, the mercury switches are all removed, we take out the battery and fuel. Nothing is left in a vehicle,” he said.

This is all done before a vehicle gets crushed.

It is now illegal according to Ivan for anyone to crush a vehicle that is considered wet. This means any vehicle that is going to be crushed must have all of the fluids removed from it before it can happen.

Ivan is a part of many associations who work together to make the industry more environmentally friendly.

“We belong to the tow association, the wrecking association and we also belong to the environmental association for wrecking,” Ivan said.

He is very open to having any inspector come and check out his yard because he does everything he can do to keep his area clean.

Ivan thinks that what he is trying to do is important for a variety of reasons.

“Recycling cars and automotive parts is important because the less that goes into out landfills or anywhere else, then the better off we will be,” and added “The big thing with the recycling is that is also beneficial for people who can not afford new parts.

“A new motor would cost maybe $4,000 whereas a recycled one can go for $1,500. The way the economy is people can not be throwing away money.”

He will not sell junk cars and feels it is important to put nothing but safe cars back on the road.

He does buy some cars but some people donate their old cars just to get rid of them.

About 600 cars go through his company every year and they all get recycled in some manner. If a car is no longer good they will crush it and have it chipped. After being chipped, the different materials that make up the car are all separated.

One other benefit from gathering older cars is that they end up helping out local fire departments.

“A lot of the vehicles we get in go to the fire departments in Invermere, Windermere and Fairmont. I look after all their cars for practice. What we do need is more cars for them so they can cut them up for practise.

“This is important for them so when the real situation occurs they will have had a lot of experience in using their equipment,” Ivan said.

By Darryl Crane - Invermere Valley Echo

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Auto recycling ultimate environmental choice

Mention auto recycling and most people still conjure up the old ‘junkyard dog’ image.

“Nothing could be further than the truth,” says Wally Dingman of Caughill Auto Wreckers.

Caughill Auto is a member of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), a group of industry members spreading that message through the rebranding of recycled auto parts under the moniker of Green Parts.

“It really is a more accurate name for what we offer here.” said Dingman.

“Cars are seen as this horrible enemy of the environment, but when they’re handled properly, they’re about the greenest consumer products out there.”

More than 80 per cent of a vehicle by weight is reused, re-manufactured or recycled in some way.

Tanks, batteries and tires are removed and are recycled, reused or disposed of appropriately. Parts are carefully removed, cleaned and tested for resale. Each part is tagged, coded and computerized before it is properly stored.

The unusable portion of the vehicle is then crushed and shredded, and then the salvaged ferrous and non-ferrous metals are separated and reused to make new cars and other products. And the cycle starts again.

“The real problems happen when a car isn’t handled properly.” warns Dingman.

“There are good operators and bad ones in this business. The bad ones just strip off the most profitable parts, and then send the rest for crushing. They don’t bother removing the batteries, the oil, fluids, refrigerants or mercury switches. The soil and groundwater gets contaminated and all that toxic stuff just makes its way into the lakes and rivers and air. It’s an environmental nightmare.”.

Only about 10 per cent of all end-of-life vehicles end up with responsible operators, he says.

Licensing could clean up the industry. A major part of the Green Parts initiative is the development of a code of environmental practice that they would like to see become law.

“Most people are surprised that auto recycling in Ontario is pretty much unregulated. There are some municipal bylaws in place, but for the most there are no overall standards. If you've got a tow truck and a cell phone and can pay cash for cars, no one is really stopping you from that," says Steve Fletcher, the association's Executive Director.

“There is a lot of investment in facilities and extra labour required to handle cars in an environmentally responsible way. Our members do that voluntarily. But our position is that it should be required of every operator in the province. There’s too much at stake to leave it to chance."

So is the Green Parts program resulting in more sales for Caughill Auto Wreckers?

“That’s hard to pinpoint. We’re definitely busier than a year ago, but that could be due to the economy. Green parts are a great way to save money. We do know that there are consumers out there that consciously make environmentally friendly choices,” says Dingman. Regardless of the economic benefits, he says he wouldn’t do business any other way.

“It’s just the right thing to do."

That, he said, makes the extra cost and effort worthwhile.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Plastic Sits Between Opportunities and Challenges

The struggling economy of the last several months may have slowed the momentum of recycling automotive plastics in North America, but panelists at the Plastics Roundtable of the 2009 ISRI Commodities Roundtable Forum said there are still long-term factors working in favor of increased activity in that sector.

Panelist Sassan Tarahomi of International Automotive Components, Dearborn, Mich., provided an overview of the current use of recycled-content resins in the automotive sector.

Tarahomi said the list of recycled-content resins now accepted by auto manufacturers has grown throughout the decade, and that numerous types of components in the exterior, interior and underneath the hood of vehicles are manufactured using recycled-content resins.

The components are made from a range of resin types, including polypropylene, nylon, polyethylene and thermoplastic olefin resins. Resins are matched with the component or application depending on properties such as temperature ductility, impact resistance and scratch resistance.

While marketers may be attracted to the notion that “green” is “in,” engineers are not typically as swayed by that, said Tarahomi. His advice for recyclers and compounders who have developed a recycled-content resin or product is that automotive engineers want to know about its properties first and foremost. Only after that discussion is held is it the time to mention that it’s a recycled-content resin, he commented.

Tarahomi noted that with its end-of-life vehicle recycling mandates, European vehicles remain ahead in terms of recycled-content plastic components, although what has been learned in Europe can be applied to the North American market.

The high cost of oil, in terms of both the "light-weighting" of vehicles and the desire to recapture the petrochemicals in plastic scrap, is a factor that could abet automotive plastics recycling in the future, added Tarahomi.

Panelist David Raney of American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Torrance, Calif., offered remarks on the prospects for recycling plastics collected from the post-shredder residue stream.

He noted that barriers include identifying constituent plastics and removing unwelcome chemicals that are present in the residue stream. Raney indicated that technological progress has been made on these fronts, but performing both tasks cost-effectively on a high-volume basis remains a barrier.

Raney offered hope in the form of the mercury switch removal program that featured cooperation from several links in the supply chain. Studying the residue stream and how to best harvest it can benefit from a similar cooperative effort, he told attendees.

Raney and Tarahomi, as well as moderator Ron Sherga of Sherresults LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, agreed that the wider plastics and chemical industry has demonstrated considerable willingness to research plastics recycling, but that it also points to cost-effectiveness, logistics and supply limitation issues as challenges that cannot be ignored.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Auto Drainage Systems

Automobiles are awash in fluids. Start with the gasoline or diesel fuel that powers the engine. Add the engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, and brake fluid that keep everything running smoothly. And don’t forget air conditioner refrigerant and windshieldwasher fluid. Before auto dismantlers and recyclers relieve vehicles of their resalable parts and log, crush, bale, or shred them, they must remove and capture every one of those fluids. And, given tighter regulations and the rising value of recycled fluids, their work needs to be good to the last drop.

Legal requirements for fluid removal vary. The regulations primarily focus on preventing the direct release of fluids into the environment and what happens with the fluids once they’re extracted. “As long as you’re not spilling [them] on the ground, there are no specific rules,” says a representative of one auto drainage system. Canada and the states of New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, California, and Oregon have some of the strictest containment regulations in North America; other states have recommended practices or guidelines. For example, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Auto Recycling Industry Compliance Guide is specific about the area in which to drain fluids: It should be covered, with a sealed concrete-pad surface. About the draining process itself, the guide is less explicit: “Use fluid removal and handling equipment, such as suction systems, drain racks, and/or funnels and stoppers for the containers.”

Over the years, dismantlers and recyclers have devised a variety of ad hoc techniques to extract fluids from vehicles quickly, “everything from building their own frame to puncturing gas tanks with a knife on a stick and catching the gas in a barrel,” says Ronda Collier, marketing director for 360° Resource (Eau Claire, Mich.), maker of Auto Tap. These companies “rely on gravity, buckets, drums, and often self-built tools to drain some of their liquids, often in dangerous ways,” says Michael Hoeher, director of business development, North America, for SEDA Environmental (St. Petersburg, Fla.). “Antiquated—but, unfortunately, still widely used— methods include puncturing fuel tanks with pickaxes” or using a forklift to drop the scrap car onto a brass-spiked bathtub, he says.

Such do-it-yourself draining creates substantial risks, however. Fuel tanks can catch fire or explode from nearby sparks or ignition sources, and heavier-than-air gas fumes can coagulate into highly flammable pools. Workers might get drenched with fuel or stumble on a slippery floor, resulting in injury and employee turnover, not to mention potential litigation. Further, contaminated fluids lose their resale value, and the cost to properly dispose of them can be high. Over the last decade or so, a few companies have created what they believe is a better way to drain fluids from an end-of-life vehicle.

An automobile fluid drainage system should allow workers to operate quickly and safely, collect each fluid separately for disposal or reuse, and comply with applicable local, state, and federal regulations. Most of today’s systems allow a single operator to do all of those things in a space of roughly 40 feet by 60 feet. Some systems are stationary; others can be moved around a yard, typically with a forklift. These systems differ most pointedly in three areas: vehicle access, draining process, and disposition of fluids.

Access to most fluids is from below the vehicle, so before anybody drains anything, workers must mount the vehicle on some kind of rack to get access to the underside. A forklift deposits cars on the Enviro-Rack by Iron Ax (Wadley, Ga.), which gives operators safe access to the vehicle along grated catwalks. The adjustable rack can accommodate any size of vehicle, tilting left or right to drain fluids at the side of a tank. Superior Recycling Solutions (Binghamton, N.Y.) extols the virtues of its “tilt-and-roll” fluid recovery lift. Becky Brechko, director of sales and marketing, explains that with other racks, when the forklift removes the car after draining, it tilts the vehicle and additional fluids run out onto the ground. “We came up with something [to] do that while [the car] was still on the rack and contain that fluid,” she says. The hydraulically operated rack can lift, tilt, and roll vehicles to any of five positions.

The scissor lift by Crow Environmental (Ipswich, England) gives dismantlers the option of raising the vehicle to a variety of heights. A forklift loads the vehicle first onto a heavy-duty frame built around the lift, which “protects the lift from heavy-handed loading and unloading,” says Crow President David Pinner. Workers can get under the hood and drain tanks in the engine bay, then they elevate the lift to get underneath the vehicle. “The scissor lift allows you to do both those things in one operation, without having a forklift truck move [the vehicle] halfway through,” Pinner says. “It doesn’t matter whether the [worker] is 5-foot tall or 6-foot-6—he can set the height of the vehicle at the appropriate working height for him.”

Manufacturers have devised equally unique and innovative techniques for penetrating fluid tanks and extracting fluids. Auto Tap does it with its Auto Point Probe, a pyramidshaped, anti-spark brass spike hydraulically inserted into each tank. “It rips a 3-inch hole in the gas tank and makes it like a funnel, so you don’t have those hidden spots where gas can hide out,” Collier says. “It drains the tank thoroughly.” For maximum leak protection, Iron Ax’s drill and funnel are a single unit, which catches the liquids flowing from fluid reservoirs. It’s a totally air-powered system, with no gas or electric motor to create sparks, the company notes.

To drain top-end fluids, SRS’ Rapid 45 Fluid Suction System uses airactivated guns that closely resemble .45 automatic pistols. The guns’ nozzles are color-coded for each tank or fluid, be it antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, or brake fluid. The gun is “designed to be fun yet ergonomically friendly, easy to hold onto, and push-button activated, so there’s no flipping switches or running back and forth between the vehicle and the pumps,” Brechko says. Afterward, technicians go underneath to cut hoses and drain the remaining fluids into a single catch basin.

SEDA uses UL-listed, explosion-proof, double-diaphragm compressed-air pumps to create powerful suction. The pumps create a vacuum that evacuates the gas, separates contaminated from reusable gas, and filters the remaining gas to gas-station quality with a minimum of overflow.

AutoDrain (Leeds, England) offers low-volume customers a vacuum-based system and higher-volume yards a combination of vacuum- and pump-based systems. “It’s a sealed system,” explains Mark Drake, sales manager. “It seals against the tank and actually sucks the vapor and the fuel directly away to the storage tank, so there is no risk of any fire.” Disposition. Whether fluids are pumped, suctioned, or drained by gravity, they have to go into some kind of container for storage, resale, or disposal. Iron Ax funnels fluids into four separate all-steel collection tanks, for oil, gasoline, transmission fluid, and antifreeze. The system avoids spills with a dual catch-pan system—a 249-gallon catch pan directly below the vehicle and a 360gallon lower tank for spills.

Fluids captured in SRS catch basins flow into an oil/antifreeze separator. “It all happens automatically,” Brechko says. “Nobody touches any fluids, nobody moves any buckets [or] 50-gallon drums, nothing.” When fluids in the separator get high enough, float switches in the separator activate a pump that automatically dispatches each one to its final storage destination.

Crow Environmental’s high-volume system pumps all fluids directly into separate tanks. The system has three fuel tanks—for gasoline, diesel, and “dirty” (polluted) fuels—that reside just outside the drainage facility. Fuels sent to the gasoline or diesel tanks pass through a filter that catches particles as small as 5 microns and removes water. These tanks come with electric dispensing pumps, Pinner says, and “fuels stored in the gasoline or diesel tank are directly reusable by the client in his own vehicles.” Other fluids go to tanks for engine oils, hydraulic oils, coolants, and windshield-wiper fluid.

The vehicle draining system universe is new and small enough to have relatively few players. Here, in alphabetical order, are six top manufacturers and descriptions of their products.

AutoDrain. “Depending on the size of the business, we’re building bespoke [custom-made] equipment for different types of vehicle dismantlers or scrap metal processing yards,” says Mark Drake, sales manager of AutoDrain, which also runs its own auto drainage and dismantling facility in Leeds, England. The company’s vacuum systems and pumps suck liquids and vapors into specialized tanks. The firm offers single, twin, and custom lifts; an AutoShear, which snips off catalytic converters; and an airbag tool that detonates airbags in place.

No adaptations are required for North American customers, Drake says. Costs range “from around $700 for a simple brake fluid suction vessel to $100,000 for an all-singing, alldancing depollution system for 200 cars a day,” he says. “Most customers fall somewhere in between.” Visit

Auto Tap. Randy Schlipp, the owner of Randy’s Recycling yards in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, invented Auto Tap in the mid-1990s. Instead of using air compressors (which tend to freeze during cold Midwestern winters), Auto Tap hydraulically powers the Auto Point Probe, an anti-spark brass pyramid that “taps” 3-inch, funnel-shaped holes in each tank. Auto Tap platforms come in two varieties: those that remain stationary or within one yard and portable, rolloff models that can serve several yards. All of their “junkyard-tough” units are built to customer specifications, with modifications to comply with state regulations. Basic units cost around $30,000; options such as catalytic converter covers, pan covers, and bolt-on steps can bring the price up to $42,500. Visit 360_resource/autotap.html.

Crow Environmental. This British firm’s system uses air-operated diaphragm pumps with color-coded controls. “Simple symbols show their operations to make [it] as easy as possible,” Pinner says. The pumps distribute fluids to six tanks installed away from the extraction facility itself. The tanks hold gasoline, diesel fuel, polluted fuels, engine oil (including gearbox oil, power-steering fluid, and shock absorber fluids), hydraulic oils (clutch and brake fluids and synthetic oils), and alcohol-based fluids (coolant and windshield-wiper fluid). Once the tanks are in place, three or four work stations—each capable of processing up to 30 vehicles a day— can feed into them. The product is certified to meet ATEX regulations on equipment used in potentially explosive environments. Crow makes one modification to its product for the North American market: “The depollution plant itself is the same across the world, but for U.S. sales we use a heavier lift than we would use in Europe,” Pinner says. “In Europe, we use a 3.2-ton lift, and in the U.S., a 3.6- or 4-ton lift because utility vehicles tend to be bigger in America.” The company has systems installed across the United States and Canada. Visit www.crowenvironmental.

Iron Ax. The Enviro-Rack is “the first and only portable, fully self-contained fluid-removal system on the market,” the company states. Forklifts place vehicles on the elevated racks; then adjustable funnels, some with compressed-air-driven drills inside to reduce leaking, collect fluids and distribute them to separate tanks for oil, gas, transmission fluid, and coolants. The rack itself is light enough to be moved by forklift. Enviro-Rack complies with U.S. EPA and state regulations for fluid removal by ensuring no fluids touch the ground, according to company representatives. The tiltable rack hovers over a 249-gallon catch pan set within a 360-gallon tank. A single operator can drain most cars in as little as five minutes, the company states. Visit

SEDA Environmental. “We don’t rely on gravity to get the job done,” says SEDA’s Hoeher. Instead, SEDA’s systems, refined over the past 25 years, use a combination of suction and air pressure to remove 98 percent of all liquids, he says. SEDA claims more than 3,000 customers in more than 40 countries. The company offers U.S. customers four basic systems: the EasyDrain Fluid Evacuation System, which can be paired with any rack; the EasyDrain Evacuation Station With Working Platform, which includes a tilting rack; the Mobile Drainage Rack, designed for any location and on any flooring; and the Rapid Quick Install, which has one pump set designed to serve two vehicle racks. Drainage of up to 70 cars per station per day takes from 6 to 8 minutes each, including miscellaneous steps such as removing converters. Prices range from $10,000 to $45,000. Visit

Superior Recycling Solutions. Auto dismantler Gary Beagell of Gary’s U-Pull-It (Binghamton, N.Y.) designed the SRS Fluid Recovery System. In contrast with some other systems, “it is not meant to be portable,” Brechko says. “It is a permanent fluid recovery system with a patented tilt-and-roll rack.” The SRS Upper Suction System’s high-speed pumps connect to Rapid 45 air-activated “pistols” with colorcoded nozzles that drain top-end fluids such as antifreeze and windshieldwasher, brake, and power-steering fluids. Operators then poke holes and cut hoses underneath so fluids drain into a catch basin and feed via gravity down to an oil/antifreeze separator. “[That] keeps it simple,” Brechko says. Best suited for larger yards but easily customized to suit most applications, she says, an SRS system with a double-sided rack, separator, and upper suction system is about $118,250. Visit

Theodore Fischer, September/October 2008 Scrap Magazine -

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guess how much of an old car gets recycled?

Professor of environmental and automotive engineering Edwin Tam, engineer Susan Sawyer-Beaulieu and PhD candidate Noor-A-Faiza Barsha are part of a national research project working to increase the amount of recyclable materials in vehicles by using a cradle-to-grave approach.

Currently, about 80 per cent of a vehicle's parts are recycled. Breaking down the various plastic components remains a challenge because different polymers are bonded together during the manufacturing process.

By looking at how parts are designed, fabricated, removed and recycled, Tam and his team hope to learn how vehicle disposal can be enhanced.

"Since a high percentage of a vehicle can be recycled, people often assume the process is similar to their home's blue box, where materials are from much simpler products that are often distinct from one another," Tam said. "This isn't necessarily the case with complex things like cars.

"The recycling process is very intensive and depends upon many factors."

His team's goal is to look at a vehicle's end-of-life and capture as much of that vehicle as possible.

"By and large the salvage industry does a very good job as a whole, and the more commercially viable we can make the process, the better they will do in the future," Sawyer-Beaulieu said.

In fact, between what is currently recycled and what is salvaged for reuse and re-manufacturing, the amount of material in a vehicle that is either reused or recycled is closer to 90 per cent already.

But there are still ways to improve.

Barsha, who graduated this past spring with a master's degree in environmental engineering, recently completed an award-winning paper looking at breaking down and separating different types of plastics used in the auto manufacturing process to make them easier to recycle. Such a process would make recycling easier and more commercially viable.

"Currently, the plastic is shredded and landfilled," said Barsha, who proposes pre-treating the plastics to make it easier to separate them. "Fuel-efficient vehicles means more lightweighting and that generally means more use of lighter materials such as plastics. Liberating these materials during recycling will require selective and intelligent methods.

Producing vehicles that are more easily recyclable may not add more cost to the manufacturing process, Tam said, because "you might be adding a design step in the process but not necessarily a manufacturing step.

"Instead of using rivets and glue to hold parts together, you might use clips which could be more easily separated."

While many decisions are based on economic factors, today's society places an ever increasing value on environmental and social factors.

Currently, when a vehicle arrives at a recycler, it's quickly assessed to determine its worth.

It's then either recycled for parts or sent to a shredder where it's ground up into piles of rubber, steel, aluminum and other materials, not all of which are recyclable.

The leftovers are usually plastics, glass, rubber, textiles, ceramics and carpeting that are difficult to recycle.

Using a process called life cycle assessment, Tam and his team hope to determine how to deal with these leftovers in a more environmentally friendly manner.

"Salvage companies remove the high-value parts and the rest is sent for shredding," Sawyer-Beaulieu said. "If you can reduce the amount of shredder residue that dismantlers and salvage companies have to deal with, it becomes commercially viable for them to do so."

Tam said the conceptual goal is to recycle 100 per cent of every vehicle but practically "that's neither possible nor commercially viable.

"But we still believe there is more we can do to reduce the impact scrap vehicles have on the environment."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kia Canada partners with Automotive Recyclers of Canada to support environmental sustainability with new $1 million commitment

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Aug. 7 /CNW/ - Kia Canada and the Automotive Recyclers of Canada today announced their partnership to encourage drivers to recycle their older vehicles for more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.

Through this partnership, Kia Canada will proactively support environmental sustainability by committing $1 million to galvanize Sephia owners, between the model years 1997 and 2001, to "recycle their ride" over the next six months.

"Kia Canada is proud to establish this partnership with the Automotive Recyclers of Canada as part of Kia Canada's commitment to corporate social responsibility," said Maria Soklis, COO and Vice-President at Kia Canada.

"This partnership offers us an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to advance the cause of environmental sustainability, one of the core goals of Kia Canada's "Moving the World Together Initiative."

"We are pleased to work with Kia Canada to ensure that these vehicles are properly retired and recycled," said Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada.

Kia Canada's "Moving the World Together" Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative is comprised of four mobility themed programs: Environmental Movement - supplying vehicles that encourage environmental sustainability; Safety Movement - providing vehicles and programs that ensure safer mobility; Youth movement - enabling marginalized youth to lead more fulfilling and enriched lives; and Community Movement - supplying vehicles and services that enable community service and volunteering opportunities for KCI employees.

Kia Canada Inc. ( - is a subsidiary of Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) in Korea. Founded in Canada in 1999, Kia Canada Inc. sells and services high quality class leading vehicles like the Soul and Forte through a network of 155 dealers nationwide. Kia Canada Inc. employs 134 people in its Mississauga, Ontario headquarters and four regional offices across Canada.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Auto-recyclers want to ‘level the playing field’

Did you know cars are the number one recycled product on the planet?

That’s why Chris Miller, a spokesperson for Miller’s Auto Recycling is saying companies involved in the processing of scrap metal and auto recycling need to take more consideration into the environment.

Miller said the local auto-recycler has been green-minded since it was established 50 years ago...and is worried the lack of environmental enforcement with scrap processors will continue to be a leading cause for pollution and ground contamination.

Removal of mercury switches, and the draining of fluids like gasoline and anti-freeze before scrapping a vehicle are things being done by Miller’s and the other 130 facilities associated with the Ontario Automobile Recycler’s Association (OARA), in accordance with federal laws.

But Miller feels more companies connected to the scrap steel-processing industry need to follow suit...and the laws should apply to them as well.

“We want to level the playing field...if you’re going to recycle these vehicles, do everything we have to do also,” said Miller.

And since they are not required by-law to drain vehicles of fluids or remove batteries, he attributes a lot of the contamination of our water to this.

He isn’t opposed to people taking their “end of life” vehicle directly to a processor instead of a licensed recycler to be sold, but wants everybody to be obligated to play by the same rule book.

“I would like to see the government put in some more strict rules for anyone who buys an end of life vehicle...that they have these things in place.”

Miller re-iterated the fact that environmentally-friendly auto-recycling certainly isn’t a new concept for the employees at the local business on Bowen Road. They’ve been doing it for 50 years, therefore he often asks himself why it’s taking so long for others in their sister-industry to get on the green bandwagon.

“I know for a fact a lot of these places out there aren’t doing it,” said Miller.

He did mention a program recently introduced by the Canadian government called Retire Your Ride, where people can have their vehicles picked up and recycled responsibly, with $300 rewarded to the vehicle’s owner.

Miller said the program has been receiving a great response.

“It’s been going off like gangbusters,” said Miller.

For more information, visit

Posted By Kris Dubé, Fort Erie Times

Monday, July 13, 2009

Professional Automotive Recyclers Stand Ready to Process 'CARS' Trade-in Vehicles

With automobile dealerships around the country heavily marketing to the consumer the benefits of the "clunker" trade-in under the federal government "Car Allowance Rebate System" (CARS) program in hopes to boost sales, there may be some question as to what happens to those tens of thousands of vehicles that are expected to be received for new, more environmentally efficient ones. Consumers and dealerships can rest assured that professional automotive recyclers throughout the United States are poised and ready to process those vehicles, and handle them according to the rules set forth under the CARS program to achieve the highest of environmental standards. With protecting the environment being a major component in this legislation, recycling these vehicles is the next logical step.

The automotive recycling industry is dedicated to the efficient removal and reuse of "green" automotive parts, and the proper recycling of inoperable motor vehicles. With strong participation in best-in-class programs such as the Certified Automotive Recycler program and other partnerships, members of the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) provide consumers with quality, low-cost alternatives for vehicle replacement parts, while preserving our environment for a "greener" tomorrow.

"ARA-member automotive recyclers stand ready to maximize the recycled parts, reuse in an environmentally sound way and get the vehicle through to the scrap process efficiently and effectively," says Michael Wilson, ARA executive vice president. "ARA members have access to the most current environmental regulations, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency and other local and state agencies, and we encourage members to uphold, and even surpass, those standards while processing retired cars. Furthermore, our members will provide the best possible service to all parties - peace of mind for the consumer trading in a car, speed of service to the dealership requiring help with vehicle disposal, and excellence in customer service to potential buyers of recycled parts - all the way to processing the vehicle for scrap."

Not all Americans can afford a new vehicle even with CARS benefits. With trade-ins processed through professional automotive recyclers, the availability of recycled parts to keep other vehicles operable is secured. American consumers and automobile repair businesses purchase these quality recycled vehicle components every day to keep vehicles running. They rely on parts from recycled vehicles because of their substantial savings in reduced repair costs and lower insurance premiums, savings from the purchase of a replacement vehicle, and also for the strong environmental benefits, including the conservation of natural resources that would otherwise be used to make new replacement parts.

The industry, predominantly comprised of small business facilities, responds to the economic and environmental challenge of recycling these vehicles. Rather than merely crushing wrecked, abandoned, or disabled automobiles, today's auto recycler maximizes a car's true market value, and gives new life through the reuse of parts to other vehicles that might otherwise be inoperable.

Established in 1943, the Automotive Recyclers Association ("ARA") represents over 4,500 auto recycling facilities in the United States and fourteen other countries around the world. To locate professional automotive recyclers to help dealerships dispose of trade-ins or from whom consumers can purchase recycled parts, ARA provides an online membership directory at

Using recycled parts to repair your vehicle

You've just had an accident and you file a claim with your insurance. The Adjuster comes out to inspect your vehicle and writes an estimate. If the Adjuster has done their job correctly, they will have gone over the estimate with you and explained what they have written. One of the items on the estimate, is to replace a body panel with a quality replacement part or recycled part. You respond to the Adjuster by saying, “I do not want used parts on my vehicle.” It helps to understand the logic and benefit from using recycled parts to repair your vehicle.

For example, lets say that you drive a 2006 Chrysler 300, 4 door. Your vehicle has 45,000 miles and your vehicle is in clean mint condition. You have an accident and dent the right front door. The damage is severe enough to cause the beam inside the door to be bent, jeopardizing the safety of the door, which needs to be replaced. When the insurance Adjuster comes out to inspect your vehicle and writes an estimate, they are going to search for a recycled right front door. What this means is that a search will be done on a door off the same year and make vehicle. If a recycled door is found, it is from another, same make and year, vehicle that has been in an accident, possibly, and had damage to the left side of the vehicle, making all parts on the right side reusable or recycled. The color of the recycled door may be a different color, but the Adjuster will add blend time to match the paint.

Recycled parts are used because the insurance company, not only saves money, but wants to put your vehicle back to pre-accident condition. Buying a new right door from the manufacturer is not returning the vehicle back to its pre-accident condition. Remember, the vehicle from our example above is 3 years old. That damaged right door is not new anymore, the paint has a slight fade and it may have a few door dings or scuffs. Buying a new door would be putting you ahead or you would be benefiting from the collision. The insurance company will only pay for what they owe.

The benefit to replacing the right door, in our example above, with a recycled door, is that it is a manufacturer part. It is not a aftermarket part. The recycled part will fit perfectly on your vehicle because it was made from the same manufacturer.

When an insurance company uses a recycled part on your vehicle for repairs, they usually guarantee the part for the life of the vehicle. If the recycled part is not available, the insurance company will most often write your estimate to replace the part with a new part, but that's after they do a major search, within a 200 to 300 mile radius, for the recycled part. One problem some people have is that they associate the word recycled with the word used, which takes away the perception of quality. Recycled should be perceived as good quality because it came from the manufacturer . The recycled part is just as good as the original part on your vehicle before the accident. Some people may think that using recycled parts will affect their vehicle manufacturer warranty. This is not true because using recycled parts does not have an effect on the integrity of the vehicle.

Remember, it's the Adjuster's responsibility to explain the estimate to you and disclose the use of recycled parts. Most estimates will have a line note, in correlation with the recycled part being replaced, explaining where the recycled part was purchased. This is to help the body shop locate the part to avoid delay.

It seems logical that using recycled parts is fair and beneficial. Your getting the same exact part,the fit is perfect and it's warranted by the insurance company. And, your also helping the environment.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Parts of the solution: Auto recyclers give green pitch

Reselling parts helps environment by saving energy, group says.

Auto recyclers have the parts to help both the environment and the economy, says Derek Covey, owner of Covey’s Auto Recyclers Ltd. in Blandford.

"The most recycled product is the automobile," said the president of the Automotive Recyclers Association of Atlantic Canada in a Thursday interview.

The regional association, which has 13 Nova Scotia members, met with its national counterpart, the 420-member Automotive Recyclers of Canada, in Halifax today and yesterday.

The two-day gathering showcased the federally funded Retire Your Ride program and the auto recycling industry’s role in the initiative, which offers $300 cash incentives to owners who take their higher emission, pre-1996 vehicles off the road.

"Our membership is a strong supporter," said Mr. Covey, who noted that auto recyclers help protect and preserve the environment in a number of ways.

Recycling and reselling auto parts saves enormous amounts of energy required to manufacture new parts, he said. Recyclers also remove and reclaim metals, plastics, oils, fluids, batteries and other hazardous materials, including mercury switches found in automobile convenience lights, from junked vehicles.

"One mercury switch can contaminate a large lake," Mr. Covey noted.

Auto recyclers contribute to the economy through the employment the industry creates, the money it spends on operations, the taxes it pays and the savings it provides to consumers and insurance companies.

"The majority of our members are small- and medium-sized businesses," said Mr. Covey, who employs 12 people. "Some employ 25 to 30."

Steve Fletcher, executive director of the regional and national automotive recyclers associations, said the Canadian auto recycling industry is worth about $800 million annually.

"It’s evolving from mom and pop operations to more professional networks," that process old vehicles properly and provide usable parts to consumers at considerable saving compared to new parts, he said.

Mr. Fletcher said the auto recycling industry has seen a 10- to 15-per cent increase on the auto part sales side of the business during the economic downturn.

"People are holding on to their cars," he said, adding that while scrap metal prices are down, they remain within historically accepted price ranges.

Lisa Tait, program director for Retire Your Ride, which is managed by the Clean Air Foundation, said auto recyclers have been essential to the success of the environmental initiative, which has recycled 7,500 vehicles since its inception in February.

"We couldn’t do it without them," she said, noting that recyclers pick up the vehicles and ensure that all hazardous materials are removed before they are crushed.

• Utilizing recycled parts saves an estimated 80 billion barrels oil annually.
• The amount of toxic oils and fluids safely reclaimed by auto recyclers is the equivalent of eight Exxon Valdez spills annually.

• More than 75 per cent of an entire vehicle, by weight, is re-used, re-manufactured or recycled.

• Using recycled parts in collision repair substantially reduces insurance costs.

• Vehicles manufactured before 1996 emit 19 times more air polluting emissions than 2004 or newer vehicles.

• Many vehicles manufactured before 2003 have switches that each contain nearly one gram of mercury. A single gram of mercury can pollute an eight-hectare lake to the point where fish are inedible for a year.

By BRUCE ERSKINE Business Reporter


The first big breath of fresh air that our environment has seen in a long time is the collapse of the auto industry. What a blessing in disguise. So swings the pendulum of evolution. Perhaps it has struck a loud, long-lasting, clear-sounding gong to which we all should be listening.

The unsung heroes on the tail of this industry have long been overlooked, criticized and looked down on as unsightly junkyards blemishing our countryside. And I’m talking, folks, about those unappreciated, well-educated in their field, far-seeing folks who are known as those in the auto recycling business. Where end-of-life vehicles are retired with environmentally friendly dignity. Where quality used parts and scrap metal are sorted, cleaned and put back into the circle of use and reuse. Where environmentally unfriendly substances are carefully collected and disposed of in a proper, sustainable manner.

By fate, fame, fortune or divine guidance, I recently had the opportunity of casually touring one of these local facilities, Fergus Auto Recyclers, 6252 County Road #29, just east of Fergus, and believe me, did I have my eyes opened wide. I was not growled at by the imaged glare of a lip-curled, snarling, white-fangs flashing junkyard dog. I did not see huge, randomly thrown piles of unsorted, paint-peeling, rusting debris. I did not see gasoline, anti-freeze and oil spills. I did not smell the stench of the dead and the dying. Nor was there the smell of mildew, rot or mould. What I saw was a well-fenced clean and tidy yard, circled by a healthy, multi-species, wetland tree population.

What I saw was containers for carefully collected anti-freeze from the radiators, oil from the crankcases, Freon from the air conditioners and fluid from the brakes. I saw that gasoline, sucked by compressed air vacuums, cleaned by filtering, and filtered once again to be used in their own vehicles.

And most important of all, I saw a small jug-sized container where collected within were the tiny units of mercury. Those are from the mercury light switches that conveniently turn on the little light when you lift both the hood and trunk lid. One of these units, small as it is, the size of a baby’s fingertip, if improperly disposed of, is quite capable of killing, by pollution, all the fish, turtles, frogs and aquatic life in a lake of 20-acre capacity.

What I also saw were neatly rowed piggybacked, stripped-down auto bodies, waiting to be crushed there on the site to fit into transportable containers, ready to be recycled in the molten cupolas of the giant steel mills.

Our sleepy-eyed, short-sighted political parties – federal, provincial and municipal – in the language of gardeners, have long been leaning, as they too often are, on the wrong end of the shovel. The industry that should have subsidies directed to, or in the lingo that excites the media, bailed out, in these times of receding economy, is not the excessive dollar-hungry mongers, legal thieves of the auto industries, where repair was unheard of and replace was the norm. Where need was forgotten and overpriced luxury, exhorting excessive speed, was foisted on the brainwashed public by easy credit, encouraging without fail, the fatal, stranglehold of deficit purchasing. Where assistance should be directed, if politicians should so wake to reality, with the possible forethought of passing a sustainable world on to our grandchildren and their children’s children, is to the so-called scrap yards that have been struggling for years to keep a foothold in a down- trodden industry that favours our environment greatly. Through no fault of their own, they have received little or no favourable recognition and certainly little in well-earned, government-regulated assistance.

Today’s recyclers provide low-cost, high-quality used parts in a way that benefits the consumer, the industry, and our earth. In so doing, they help reduce insurance rates, vehicle repair bills and staggering amounts of pollution. Should they not be given a much fairer shake?

Take care, ‘cause we care.

by Barrie Hopkins,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Car Collectors, Restorers Indebted to Hollander Interchange Creator

If it hadn't been for the Great Depression and talking pictures, today's car collectors, restorers and repairers might be displaying their classic cars on wooden blocks instead of scenic roadways.

The double force of the economic Depression and the decline in live entertainment triggered by "talkies" forced Twin Cities singers Roy and Hildur Hollander off the stage and into the garage. There they created what's become the largest interchangeable auto parts system in the world, known in the industry as the "Hollander Interchange."

The Birth of an Idea
Roy Hollander came upon the interchangeable parts idea while working as a car salesman at the start of the Depression. He’d offered a customer $75 in trade credit for 1919 Diamond Truck that had little more than an engine, gears and wheels. After several unsuccessful attempts to sell the relic, Hollander approached an auto wrecker with the hope of recouping a portion of his investment. The man handed him $100 for the remains, explaining that the salvageable components would be sold for reuse on other vehicles at a handsome profit.

A few years later, with their music careers still on hold and jobs scarce, Hollander and his wife began a year-long study on which parts from which vehicles were interchangeable. Their plan was to sell their findings to "auto wreckers, mechanics, garages and anyone else who was interested" in the reuse of auto parts. Their concept of "recycling" used auto parts was decades ahead of their time.

Information proved difficult to access. Automobile manufacturers were reluctant to admit that some of their parts would work equally well in other models. Hollander persisted, and in 1934 published the first edition of the Hollander Interchange Manual.

Hollander Interchange Manuals have been a staple of auto recycling operations for more than 70 years. In recent years, they’ve also become a trusted reference among individual car enthusiasts, particularly classic car collectors, restorers and parts suppliers. They are considered the world’s most complete and accurate index on auto parts for classic or restored automobiles.

Hollander Interchange Simplifies Parts Search
The Hollander Interchange enables automotive recyclers, enthusiasts and parts suppliers to find the parts they need to keep their vehicles running and in original condition. The manuals index millions of auto parts and their interchangeable equivalents from other vehicles. The easy-to-use system allows anyone interested in restoring or repairing an automobile to broaden and simplify the search for hard-to-find replacements parts, and save money in the process.

Monday, May 25, 2009

National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program Launched - A Unique Collaboration

Canada’s steel and auto industries aresupporting and funding a national program designed to remove mercury containing switches that were used in vehicles for convenience lights (under the hood or in the trunk) and anti-lock braking systems from endof-life scrapped vehicles before they are flattened, shredded and recycled into new steel. This national program builds on the successful Switch Out initiative delivered by the Clean Air Foundation, a national not-for-profit organization. With this new funding, Clean Air Foundation will expand Switch Out to all provinces and territories in Canada, providing the infrastructure for the collection, removal and management of the mercurycontaining switches as well as practical educational materials to recyclers across the country.

This program partnership is supported by Canadian automotive recyclers and dismantlers and their respective associations – the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI). The collaborative effort among the steel, auto and recycling/dismantling industries is unprecedented and is essential to the success of the program, which will assist the steel and auto industries to meet the new federal pollution prevention requirements regarding mercury-containing switches.

Mark Nantais, President of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association stated that “This program will ensure that the mercurycontaining switches in end-of-life vehicles are properly removed and managed so mercury is captured and prevented from entering the environment. As of January 1, 2003 the use of mercury switches in new automobiles has been voluntarily and completely phased out.” Ron Watkins, President of the Canadian Steel Producers Association, added that “Removing mercury-containing switches from end-of-life vehicles represents the most effective way to reduce mercury releases to the environment. Canada’s steel producers are committed to the continued success of the Switch Out program, and are pleased to be working with the auto industry and the Clean Air Foundation to expand it into a truly national program.”

Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), said “ARC supports the establishment of a national vehicle mercury switch recovery program. We are committed to working in good faith as we have done in the past and even more now to ensure that the mercury switches from all scrap vehicles are removed.” Leonard Shaw, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI), commented that “As stewards of our environment, CARI looks forward to applying our industry expertise to help develop the national Switch Out program.”

Since 2001, Switch Out has engaged 448 auto recyclers to collect more than 160,000 mercury-containing convenience lighting switches across Canada. Ersilia Serafini, Executive Director of Clean Air Foundation, stated that “we are committed to delivering this national program and will build on our past success to ensure that the program achieves results. We look forward to working with the Canadian steel and auto industries, as well as engaging many more recyclers and dismantlers in this national program.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Recyclable Cars: Which parts of your car end up as landfill?

Each year, around 10 million vehicles are disposed of in the United States. Before vexing your conscience though, you should know that over 95 percent of these “retired” cars head straight to one of the 7,000 vehicle recycling operations around the country and 75 percent of these cars' parts are completely recycled, letting cars claim top spot as the world's most recycled product.

DriverSide explores what happens to these automotive materials:

As the hottest commodity at the moment, steel, iron and other metals comprise about 65 percent of the average vehicle, making the reuse of this product vital to overall automotive recycling efforts. Although reuse of metals started alongside the advent of the automobile, they're more popular than ever before. With construction exploding in rapidly developing countries like China, traders are snatching metals up to sell, and some older cars are now actually worth more for their steel than for their originally intended ‘automotive’ function. Naturally this means, according to the Steel Recycling Institute, that virtually all of this material is recovered for reuse. Wheels, engines, transmissions, wiring and body shells get shredded and filtered by ferrous scrap processors and the material is then sold to steel mills. Your trashed ’79 El Camino could be having a second life as a part of an Indian skyscraper.

70 percent of all lead now used in the U.S. is found in car batteries. Fortunately, we’ve known about the toxicity of lead for a while now and recycling systems have been in place for years. Some batteries have enough life to be reconditioned for resale, but the dead ones go to lead reclaiming plants where the toxic substance is extracted to use in new batteries.

“Nearly 90 percent of all lead-acid batteries are recycled,” confirms Latisha Petteway, Spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Almost any retailer that sells lead-acid batteries collects used batteries for recycling, as required by most state laws.”

In 2005, the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association estimated, based on U.S. census reports, that 299 million tires were discarded. That's a helluva lot of miles covered. Good news: 86 percent of that number was reused. While today’s tires are complex, they are also extremely recyclable. The rubber from old tires makes it into a multitude of materials, from pavements to playground covering. Some are used to create more tires, 16.255 million in 2005 were retreaded – though very few of those were for passenger cars, due to economic factors. They are also able to fuel cement kilns, boilers and paper mills as well.

Oil, that fussy liquid which needs to be changed every few thousand miles, isn't just tossed away at lube shops. 380 million gallons are reused or recycled each year in America. It goes through a refining process and comes out squeaky clean (well, as clean as an oil can be) as a base stock for lubricating oil. The problem is that many do-it-yourselfers change their own oil, and the irresponsible ones send roughly 120 million gallons down the drain instead of taking it to a collection center, local auto parts store or garage.

Used gear oil, windshield wiper solution, brake fluid, power steering fluid, antifreeze and transmission fluid can contain some seriously toxic substances, including lead and the highly poisonous ethylene glycol. But if you drop it off at a collection site, each of these fluids can either be blended and utilized as an alternate fuel source or restored.

What Isn’t Recycled
The recyclability of certain materials has eluded experts for years. Glass is just one such problem. Those windows protecting you from errant rocks and bugs are coated in a laminate, and sometimes have defrosting wiring and tinting, all of which complicate the recycling process.

Roughly 12 million tons of ferrous and non-ferrous metals are recycled each year, but according to Petteway, “about 20 percent of the scrap feed (or auto shredder residue) remains after metals recovery – consisting primarily of glass, plastics, rubber, fabrics and dirt.”

While we've come far in our auto recycling efforts over the years, the amount we are unable to reuse adds up quickly.

“Nearly all of the over 3 million tons of auto shredder residue generated in the U.S. each year is land filled,” continues Petteway, “recovery of specific materials from ASR (auto shredder residue) is difficult due to the physical nature of ASR, contamination, weak markets for major recoverable materials – such as polyurethane foam, rubber, and glass – and the processing needed to meet market specifications.”

Not all is lost though; Scientists at Illinois' Argonne National Laboratory say they're close to completing a facility that recycles the leftovers from junked vehicles. Manufacturers are also stepping up to the plate. The VW-Scion process maximizes the recovery of materials that would have previously been shredded and land filled. Ford and Mazda reuse plastic bumpers in the creation of new vehicles as well and Acura's 2009 TL is 90 percent recyclable.

With renewable resources and environmental protection on the forefront of design and manufacturing now, the time when we should start seeing recycling hit new levels of success is right around the corner.

By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor