Plenty of material goes into making cars, and a lot of it can be recycled at the end of your vehicle’s life span. Auto parts recycling lets you make the most of these materials, sending them off to be reused in a wide variety of other applications. A lot of new cars already contain recycled materials from old cars, but recycled parts can go into more than just cars, including shoes, turf, and virtually anything you can imagine that makes use of scrap metal, plastic, and rubber. Learn about easy auto parts recycling, and discover which parts of your car you should recycle when it’s time to get rid of them.
From both an economic and environmental perspective, recycling is the best way to make use of our limited resources. Fortunately, the automotive industry has been one of the leaders in recycling for decades now. Being at the forefront of innovation has helped companies save on production, and with less waste comes more savings. Plus, the market for used parts has expanded greatly in recent years, with more and more drivers being willing to opt for used parts to not only save on their budget but to save the environment as well.
One major obstacle does still exist, however, and that’s original equipment manufacturer repair standards. Manufacturers only officially approve OEM parts, which are new parts from the manufacturer for warranty-covered repairs. Recycled parts are lumped together with aftermarket parts, even though a lot of recycled parts are virtually no different from OEM parts in a lot of circumstances, considering that they were once OEM parts themselves.
The industry is largely moving toward a model that champions availability more than anything else. The more you recycle your auto parts, the more readily available parts will be for people looking for them. The most successful auto parts sellers are effective because they can get people the parts they need quickly and accurately. Most vehicle owners have had to wait on a part before, and the more you recycle, the shorter that wait time will be overall.
Oil changes are among the most common services you’ll ever have to get for your vehicle. If you take your car to the shop for an oil change, they should already be recycling it for you. If you change your oil yourself, however, make sure to bring it to a local recycling facility for disposal. Improperly disposed oil can have massive impacts on the environment, with the oil from a single oil change having the potential to ruin a million gallons of water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you’re not sure where your local recycling facility is, auto parts shops like Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone can take care of it as well.
Tires are produced in incredibly high numbers, and a lot of tires being produced today use recycled materials. The goal is to get that rate to 100%, and you can help by making sure that your tires are recycled. Tire shops will recycle them for you, as will designated tire recycling centers. Whether they go to fuel, engineering applications, or simple ground rubber, recycled tires can help quite a bit.
Recycling glass is probably something you’re already familiar with, but recycling auto glass is different than recycling the glass from items like bottles. Auto glass has a polyvinyl butyral interlayer, which is the substance that helps prevent the glass from shattering in an accident. Glass takes about a million years to decompose naturally, so it’s best not to leave it lying around. Salvage yards and body shops are typically happy to take automotive glass off your hands, but if you have a classic car, there may be a market online with special buyers who are interested in it.
Scrap metal is probably the most common recyclable material you’ll find in an old car. From engines to doors to virtually everything else, metal is pretty much everywhere. These metals are typically iron, aluminum, steel, or a mixture of these. Aluminum is particularly easy to recycle, not requiring all that much energy, unlike iron and steel. A scrap yard is your best bet for recycling scrap metal. They typically pay based on weight as well.
When you replace your alternator, there is usually a core charge that gets refunded when you return your old, busted alternator to the store. Old alternators get rebuilt, tested, and then sold as fully functional refurbished units. Someone else will end up buying it, using it, and returning it for refurbishment when it stops working.
The materials inside a busted alternator can still be recyclable even if the alternator doesn’t work, so you can potentially recycle this part before it’s time to decommission the entire vehicle. Alternators contain a good deal of steel and copper, and these materials can easily be used in a variety of other applications.
The catalytic converter helps the environment by converting exhaust pollutants into less harmful byproducts. When it’s time to recycle one, you can continue its mission to reduce pollution by turning it over to a local recycling facility or specialty exhaust shop. The metals inside these converters are quite specialized and rare. In addition to steel and iron, you’ll find platinum and palladium included in these systems. These elements are often used for high-end applications like electronics manufacturing and jewelry.
Car batteries need to be recycled more to prevent improper disposal than to reuse them for other applications. Car batteries contain a variety of plastics as well as acid that is harmful to the environment and hard to naturally decompose. In fact, some states have specific laws surrounding the recycling of car batteries. Don’t forget to wear gloves and other protective gear when handling car batteries, as the acid is harmful to the skin. Most batteries are recycled into new car batteries, and you can recycle them at auto parts stores and junkyards.
Recycling auto parts can help you follow the law and protect the environment.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.