How much of the average car is recyclable?

Pop quiz. How much of the average car is recyclable:  44%, 82% or 100%?

First came ecological friendliness, then carbon footprint awareness, and now recycling is second nature to most of us – plastics in one bin, glass in another… But how many of us think about the bigger items? Yes, you may take your broken radios and unwanted bookshelves to the local municipal dump, but what about the collection of metals, plastics and glass that you drive yourself there in? What about when your car needs to be scrapped? Have you ever thought about just how much of your vehicle is actually recyclable? We have, and this is what we’ve discovered…

According to a Green Investment Bank Report, 85 million tonnes of waste was generated by Britons in 2012, with around 25% of it ending up in landfill. However, advancements in technology now mean that almost 100% of a car can be recycled.

Known as the ‘cleantech’ sector, growth in the recycling of scrapped cars is great news for those in the vehicle recovery industry – and the world as a whole of course – with a new industrial waste gasification plant in the West Midlands blazing the trail right here in the UK.

With the vehicle recovery and scrap business at the coalface, metal recycling is a growing sphere with over 13 million tonnes of metals recovered from broken down from scrap car parts, white goods and food and drinks cans each year, according to the British Metals Recycling Association (BRMA).

The West Midlands plant was developed in conjunction with both Chinook Sciences and European Metal Recycling (ERM). The site can process over 240 vehicles an hour – a pretty impressive figure. Over two million tonnes of recycled metal and other materials are recovered each year from this plant, making a sizeable dent in the volumes previously sent to landfill.

Nearly 90% of a car can be recycled

Rubber from tyres, materials from seat covers and high-tech equipment from inside can all be easily removed from cars, but what about the lengths of wires, plastics and other materials that sit within door panels and under the floors? Such things would be very costly to remove completely in order for the precious metals in the body of a vehicle to be effectively recycled, but this is no longer the case. The West Midlands plant has changed all of this. Its process acts like a very large-scale pressure cooker, turning almost any material into gas and cleaning metals so they are able to be recycled. The gas that’s produced can then be used in a similar manner to natural gas to produce power for homes and businesses, so nothing is wasted.

The taxes placed on landfill by the Government have ensured that businesses are looking for better ways to reach EU recycling targets. In fact, in 2013, Britain surpassed the 85% target and actually achieved a figure of 88%. However, from January 2015, this target is set to be raised to 95%, so still more must be done.

This is good news for the Chinook plant which has calculated that they will smash this rate and achieve a 99% recovery rate, with the remaining 1% being waste ash at the end of the process.

So with over one million cars recovered and scrapped each year, your vehicle recovery driver really is at the forefront of a recycling revolution!

Of course, these are pretty impressive statistics, but as vehicle manufacturers strive to produce ever more lightweight vehicles, warnings have been given to highlight that these high recycle rates may become difficult to achieve. By replacing metals with materials such as carbon fibre or plastics, the recovery rate of recyclables could be drastically reduced.

If you are considering scrapping – I mean, recycling – your vehicle, visit a website like scrapcarslegally and they’ll make sure that you scrap your old car ethically and responsibly.