Monday, May 10, 2010

Recycling-Auto Parts Recycling / Auto Recycling

The automobile has transformed the way we live and travel in the past century. Along with the automobile- trucks, buses and airplanes have played a huge impact on the way humans travel as how we ship goods across the world. As much as a positive impact these modern machines have had on society, they also leave a huge environmental footprint and have caused massive amounts of pollution directly and indirectly. We all are aware of the impact the oil produced to power vehicles and other modes of transportation have on the environment and the fact global warming can be contributed to the overuse of fuels. Another thing that needs to be taken into account is how used car parts, which include the body; engines, glass and tires get disposed of. What happens to the millions of damaged and used cars that are written off every year? How do we dispose of the oil, car fluids, tires, glass and different types of metals used in vehicles? The health of our planet depends on the choices we make in regards to proper disposal and recycling of used automobile and other vehicles parts and accessories.

Auto Body/Scrap Metal Recycling
For the most part, cars are made up of steel. But there are also several other metals present in a modern car. Arsenic, tin, and antimony can be used as solder. Silver and copper are used as electrical wiring and components. Calcium, lithium, molybdenum and barium are used in grease and lubricants. Manganese, boron, nickel, vanadium, cobalt, strontium and titanium make up steel components in an automobile. There are quite a lot of valuable but potentially hazardous materials in a vehicle. Add to that list the amount of plastics that are used and you can see that used cars and junk vehicles pose a huge environmental threat.

The frame of junk cars contributes to a lot of scrap metal that needs to be disposed of and recycled properly. It is best to reuse parts in other vehicles when feasible to do so. Auto salvage businesses typically pick up and store automobiles to use for parts, and take those used car parts and sell them to consumers in need of cheaper products for their cars, trucks, and SUVs. You can look in your phone directory and yellow pages to locate auto salvage yards in your area. The used car parts industry is a huge business. In addition to junkyards and auto salvage places in your area, there are many web sites like eBay and kijiji that have car parts and accessories for sale.

Steel and aluminum make up the frame of most cars and trucks. Steel is an alloy that consists mainly of iron. Steel is one of the main raw materials used in the auto industry.Over half of the world’s steel production uses recycled scrap metal making it one of the most recycled materials in the world today. The steel industry has been actively recycling for more than a century, mainly because it is economically favorable to recycle steel. It is cheaper to recycle steel than to mine iron and manage it through the production process to form new steel. Recycling aluminum also conserves energy because it takes a lot less energy to process recycled aluminum than it does to produce new aluminum from its natural source. Aluminum can be recycled into a lot of different products such as tractor trailer, truck and car bodies. Scrap metal is a term used to describe recyclable materials left over from every manner of product consumption, such as parts of vehicles, and other surplus materials. Scrap is often taken to a scrapyard, wrecking yard or a junkyard, where it is processed for later melting into new products.

Once plastics have been built into a car, they are rarely recycled. When compressed into granulate material, the shredded plastic parts are usually too indiscriminately mixed to warrant any further use. Every end-of-life car is a source of raw materials. In practice, unfortunatly, these resources are still used far too infrequently, especially where plastics are concerned. During the recycling process, the polymers land in the non-metallic shredder residue along with dust, slivers of metal and textile fluff, and are made into granulate using the SiCon process. This mixes the plastics so randomly that it is not yet possible to separate them into the specific types again. They are normally used as reducers in blast furnaces. In the future, this granulated plastic could be salvaged and transformed once again into dashboards and other car parts. Using this technology, the overall recycling rate for metals, plastics and textiles inr end-of-life cars can be increased to over ninety percent.

Another substance in used cars that needs to be recycled is windshields and other glass. Glass windshields were used on automobiles with the invention of safety glass, which is tempered to make it especially hard and resistant to shattering. This type of windshield was popular well into the middle of the nineteenth century, but it was eventually replaced by windshields made of laminated glass, which is a multilayer unit consisting of a plastic layer surrounded by two sheets of glass. Windshield chip repair is an eco friendly method when compared to windshield glass replacement. Windshields cannot be recycled easily and add to the permanent landfill and waste on the planet when not recycled. Recycling of windshield components may become a standard practice soon. Though traditionally recycling has been difficult because of the plastic laminated films, one manufacturer has recently developed a cost-effective process to remove these layers. The recycled glass can be used in several applications, including glassphalt for road repair. As well, some companies are making wine glasses and other beverage glasses from recycled windshields. With effective processing, there is no need for windshield glass to be a solid waste. Windshield glass represents a substantial supply of relatively clean, clear plate glass, which has potentially broad applications, including aggregate and industrial minerals applications. Recycling of windshield glass prevents more glass being thrown into land fields, which is a threat to safety and the environment. It takes many thousands of years for glass to break down in a landfill.

Tire Recycling:
One of the most widely used inventions is the wheel. Most vehicles have wheels on the bottom to propel them. When we think of all the vehicles on the road today, around the world, ranging from a bicycle, scooter, motorbike, car, truck and large transport trucks the wheel allows them to move forward. Most of these wheels consist of tires, which consist of rubber and other synthetic materials. What do we do with hundreds of millions of tires that are discarded every year? Many are recycled and put to our uses.

The initial stage of tire making is collecting raw materials and formulating rubber compounds. The raw materials used are rubber, oils, pigments, antioxidants, carbon black or silica, accelerators and other additives. These are then mixed together in a huge blender and mixed into tire material. The main body of the tire is manufactured using fabricated rubber polyester, nylon and rayon. The fabrics are changed depending on the type of the tire, however mostly polyester is used. Tires are assembled from the inside out. The inner line of the tire is made of two layers of synthetic rubber. Then another double layer of poly fabric is pasted.

Given the amount of tires we produce and then discard of, it is crucial that we recycle these tires. Tires are not desired at landfills, due to their large volumes and seventy-five percent void space, which quickly consumes valuable space Tires can trap methane gases, causing them to become buoyant, or bubble to the surface. Tire stockpiles create a great health and safety risk. Tire fires can occur easily, burning for months, creating substantial pollution in the air and ground, giving some hazardous emmisions. Recycling helps to reduce the number of tires in storage. Due to heavy metals and other pollutants in tires there is a potential risk for the leaching of toxins into the groundwater when placed in wet soils. Tires contain cadmium which fixes the colour in rubber. Cadmium, though little talked about, is one of the more poisonous of the metals in our environment. Cadmium can seem into our fruits and vegetables. As is the case with many heavy metal poisonings, we don’t usually notice we are consuming these toxins, and the early symptoms are not noticed until it is too late.

It is estimated that 1.3 billion tires are sold annually and more than two thirds of those tires replace old worn out tires. That means that almost 1 billion tires worldwide are discarded every year. Twenty years ago only ten percent of all discarded tires were recycled but today more than eighty percent end up at a recycling facility. Recycling the material in old tires is a good idea no matter how you look at it and literally hundreds of different applications have been developed for recycling old car tires.

Almost no one changes their own tires anymore and the recycling of old tires is done by professionals who generally do so in an environmentally friendly manner. When you take your car in to have the tires changed at the local garage or tire shop there is almost always arrangements for taking your old tires for recycling. Approximately one quarter of those old tires is retreaded and used again on another vehicle somewhere. In many parts of the world old tires are ground up and used to make rubberized asphalt for highways or shredded and used as a base for gravel roads or as a sand or gravel substitute in some other road construction application. Some old tires are chopped up and used as part of the surface for indoor tennis courts or other indoor sports playing fields. For many applications, recycling old tire rubber is cheaper than collecting and processing new rubber.

An example of putting old tires to use was to build part of a highway in New Brunswick, Canada. The transportation department used one million used tires, the second-largest number used on one highway in North America, as filler underneath the paved structure. A majority of the tires were shredded and used as soil to elevate the road. Though they will never be seen by the public, the tires are an environmentally friendly and a modern addition to the highway. Rubberized asphalt concrete is made by blending rubber from recycled waste tires with asphalt and uses about 2,000 waste tires for every lane mile paved. Not only does it cut down in noise, but also it resists cracking, retains its original color and can save money compared with the standard layer of regular asphalt. Another use is for Retaining walls on steep sloping land to prevent erosion - partially buried and planted into - the roots hold it all together. Other uses for old tires are to use the shredded tires for the soft spongy rubber surface for playgrounds. You can make planters from them in your yard or use them in other areas around your property.

Another interesting use for old tires is a proposed tire-fueled power plant in Pennsylvania, which plans to turn 900 tons of tires each day into a 90-megawatt power supply. This would be an ecologically beneficial investment since it would keep tires out of landfills or illegal dumps and generate electricity with one-tenth the emissions of traditional coal-fired power plants. Such plants are relatively common in Asia, Europe and the United States, but they usually operate on a much smaller scale and they are often built in a modified existing facility to fuel one local industry like a paper mill or cement kiln. This plant, if it is built, would be the world's largest tire-burning power plant and one of relatively few constructed solely for that purpose. It would consume 72,000 tires a day and produce enough electricity for about 75,000 homes. There is debate, however, on how projects like this are environmentally friendly as there are emissions from the burning of tires.

Burning tires is an environmental danger. Arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead, beryllium, chromium and other toxic and carcinogenic substances and dioxins are released into the air when a car tire is burned. Cardiac disease and respiratory problems can be caused by the metal particles released from a burning tire as well. Plus the natural resources that go into making a tire go to waste if the tire is burned improperly. The burning of tires has not completely disappeared but it has improved to the point where it is both environmentally safe and it recycles the raw materials. By using a process called pyrolysis, which burns the tires in a reduced air environment or vacuum, the raw materials are recovered and recycled. A typical car passenger tire will yield one kilogram of steel, four liters of oil, almost four kilograms of carbon and 850 liters of reusable combustible gas as a result of this recycling process.

Tire shops often accept old tires and even may give you a bit of money for them. There may be tire repair companies in your area as well. Try to find places that recycle tires if you have no use for them. Almost every rubber tire produced can be shredded, crumbled up and recycled into a new product. The only exception to date is large industrial truck tires, but work is underway to figure out how these too can be put to good use once they’re no longer roadworthy. The important thing is to put all used tires to good use when we no longer can use them ourselves.
Car Battery Recycling:
Do not throw your old car battery into that bin with your household recyclables and leave it on the curb. An automotive battery, also referred to as a lead-acid battery, contains about twenty pounds of lead, three pounds of plastic and one gallon of sulfuric acid. These items can be toxic if handled improperly. When a worn out battery is recycled, all elements can be reused in new batteries. The lead, for instance, is nearly one hundred percent recyclable, and usually is used in new batteries over and over again. Plastic components also can be reclaimed to create new batteries and other products. The sulfuric acid can be recycled and used in new batteries; it can be neutralized, purified and tested before being released as clean water, or it can be converted to sodium sulfate, a product used in fertilizer, dyes and other products.

Simply throwing away car batteries can lead to toxic leaks into the environment. The lead in batteries is an extreme toxin that can leach into groundwater. Upon the purchasing of a new battery, auto repair shops and auto parts stores should accept your old battery for recycling and be willing to accept any other old batteries that you might have. Taking the time to recycle them is a more responsible choice. According to the American Automile Association (AAA) , ninety-nine percent of typical lead-acid batteries can be recycled, and proper disposal is especially important because of their high toxicity and potentially explosive contents. The organization says that about ninety-five percent of batteries are currently being recycled through remanufacture

Recycling Motor Oil/Lubricants/Antifreeze:
Oil disposal and oil recycling are very important environmental issues. Used oil can contain such contaminants as lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic and chlorinated compounds. Motor oil poured onto the ground or into storm drains, or tossed into trash cans or sealed containers can contaminate and pollute the soil, groundwater, streams, and rivers. The oil from a single oil change has the potential to ruin a million gallons of drinking water, which is a year’s supply for 50 people! Recycling your used motor oil diminishes this pollution threat.

Motor oil has value even after it has been drained from an engine. The oil you take to a collection center to be recycled saves energy. It can be reprocessed and used in furnaces for heat or in power plants to generate electricity for homes, schools, and businesses. It can also be sent to a refinery that specializes in processing used oil and re-refined into lubricating base oils that can be used to formulate engine oils. Many service stations, repair facilities and quick lubes will accept used oil and used oil filters. Additionally, your local government or recycling coordinator may be able to identify curbside or other recycling programs in your area.

There are many practical uses for used motor oil. One primary use is to rerefine it into a base stock for lubricating oil. This process is very similar to the refining of crude oil. The result is that the redefined oil is of as high a quality as a virgin oil product. In fact, rerefining used oil takes from fifty to eighty percent less energy than refining crude oil.
A secondary use of the used oil is to burn it for energy. Large industrial boilers can efficiently burn the used oil with less pollution. As a result some used oil is sent to power plants or cement kilns to be burned as fuel. On a smaller scale lower quantities of used oil are burned in specially designed heaters to produce space heating for small businesses.

It is important to dispose of any oil-based products like transmission fluid, brake fluid, gear oil and other petroleum products properly. These dangerous substances should never be poured down drains, poured on the ground or poured into sources of water. They should be taken to hazardous waste collection facilities. Hazardous waste facilities are able to dispose of these substances properly as well as recycle them. Brake, transmission, and power steering fluids are toxic and need to be stored, not dumped, and brought to a service station or lube shop for recycling or proper disposal. Keep each type of fluid separate, and always label the jugs after draining to keep the fluids separate.

Transmission fluid, used to lubricate automobile transmissions, is mainly composed of mineral oil. Transmission fluid is flammable at high temperatures. Used transmission fluid contains environmentally toxic heavy metals, including lead. The heavy metals in used fluid can cause severe nervous system damage to wildlife and other animals if disposed of improperly. Brake fluid is a flammable product, which contains solvents in the form of glycols. Brake fluid is a poison and, if ingested, may cause central nervous system depression and kidney failure. Used brake fluid contains lead and other heavy metals in addition to solvents. These heavy metals can pose an environmental danger if disposed of improperly. Kerosene, diesel fuel, and gasoline are all fuels that should be disposed of as a hazardous waste.

Antifreeze coolant or ethylene glycol is a hazardous waste that is toxic to aquatic and land based animal life. Although it is not technically an oil product, the dangers of it being improperly disposed of are worth mentioning. Fortunately, it will eventually break down into water and carbon dioxide. However, used antifreeze contains more than just ethylene/propylene glycols and water. Contaminants found in used antifreeze, such as lead and benzene, can cause serious health and environmental problems. Antifreeze manufacturers also add a variety of chemicals to antifreeze to deter rust and corrosion. These chemicals can endanger the environment. Large quantities of glycol can suffocate aquatic life and disrupt sewage treatment processes. Both ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are toxic. Used antifreeze also picks up heavy metals like lead during use in the engine. These should not be released into the environment. Properly dispose of used antifreeze at an appropriate collection center. Waste antifreeze should never be disposed of down storm drains, streets or into surface waters because it causes serious water quality problems and may harm people, pets and wildlife. Due to the many on-site and off-site recycling options available, recycling antifreeze is feasible in many areas. Waste antifreeze can be recycled by a few different methods.

There are many options for old used cars and car parts instead of dumping them in land fields. We can no longer ignore the consequences of throwing our junk cars away recklessly. While the automobile and other modes of transportation have transformed human life over the past hundred years, it hasn’t come without a huge environmental impact. First we need to move away from gas guzzling vehicles that contribute to global warming and pollution. Green vehicles that run on electricity, hydrogen, solar energy and other clean renewable energy sources need to be used. Car manufacturers, especially in North America need to make cars that last longer, so that they are not discarded as frequently. The big three automakers in North America (GM, Ford and Chrysler) need to stop making cars that are made to be replaced every five years or so and to make them last longer as well as more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly. Secondly, when the life of a car does expire we need to recycle everything from the oil to the body. There is no more environmental free ride when it comes to the automobile.

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