Thanks to one of our readers, Sean, for this guest post. He has been involved in the automotive industry for approximately 25 years. He has always had a passion for cars, as well as preserving the environment. He decided to combine both passions together, and help people learn how to keep cars eco-friendly.
Unless a person has the ability to trade in their used car for a new one every few years, the time will eventually come when the old heap needs disposal. The simple solution is to park it in the back yard and wait for nature to take its toll. However, improper disposal of unwanted cars can wreak havoc on the environment.
Automobiles are full of many different types of hazardous waste that can pollute the soil and water if not disposed of correctly. The average car battery contains about 25 pounds of toxic materials (including the lead casing, plastic and sulfuric acid). If the battery is taken to the landfill, the toxic substances will leach into the soil and eventually into the water table if the battery is crushed. If the dump burns waste, the poisonous materials are released into the air.
There are numerous oil-based liquids in a vehicle. Gasoline, motor oil, transmission fluid and other fluids essential to the proper operation of a car are toxic. Whether they are drained onto the ground intentionally or left in a junked vehicle and crushed along with the car’s shell, they will contaminate the ground and water. There is some evidence that exposure to motor oil may cause cancer. There is also the difficulty of cleaning up spilled oil or related products. Just one quart of motor oil can foul 250,000 gallons of water.
Tires that are tossed in ditches or piled up are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests. Tires are also notoriously flammable and difficult to extinguish once they start burning. Burning tires release pollutants including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other hazardous chemicals into the air.
Many of the hazardous materials found in old autos are recyclable. By recycling these components, fewer raw materials must be harvested form the earth. Space is saved in landfills and new products can be created from discarded materials.
For the handyman, one option to dispose of an unwanted car is to part it out. By selling the usable parts to other backyard mechanics, many parts of the car can be recycled while earning some extra money. Most communities also sponsor periodic hazardous waste disposal days, so materials can be properly discarded through these programs.
Not everyone has the ability or time to dispose of each separate component themselves. There are alternatives to either doing it yourself or ignoring the clunker in the back yard. Even nonworking vehicles can be recycled. Most auto salvage yards will not only pay for junk cars, they will usually tow them away for free. One such company is Cash For Trucks – they are dedicated to cleaning up the environment.
Many charities like the Salvation Army also participate in car giveaway programs. Donated cars are sold, either to new owners or to scrap yards, and the proceeds used to fund a variety of good causes. Charities that help sick children and other groups count on donated cars for operating costs. By donating an unwanted vehicle, the owner can help others by funding good causes and help protect the environment.