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How Scrapping a Car Can Help the Environment

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How Scrapping a Car Can Help the Environment

Money is often the primary motivation for more than 1.1 million cars being scrapped each year in the U.K. But did you know that scrapping a car has environmental benefits?

Scrapping a Car Can Help the Environment

Here are some of the ways scrapping — instead of abandoning — your car can make a difference.

Reduced Air Pollution

A straightforward way to help reduce air pollution is to not replace your scrapped car. It’s a growing trend in urban centres for people to rethink the need for a petrol or diesel fuelled car.

Instead, they are exploring other options. Cycling, walking, public transit, electric cars, car-sharing services, taxis, and ride-sharing are rising in popularity. For every car taken off the road, an average of 4.7 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide is no longer released into the air.

But going car-free isn’t the only way scrapping a car can help reduce air pollution. If you do want a new car, finding one that is fuel efficient and produces low emissions has never been easier.

The U.K. government hosts a database of fuel emission information about new and used cars. It’s available to the public to help consumers research environmental impact before buying a car.

Hybrid and electronic cars continue to grow in availability, reliability and affordability. In 2017, Volvo became the first car manufacturer to commit to building only hybrid and electric cars, starting in 2019.

Scrapping a car that runs on petrol or diesel and exchanging it for a hybrid or electric vehicle is an effective way to help the environment.

Reused Parts

Of course, scrapping a car is a fine way to help your fellow citizens as well as the environment.

When you take your car to a professional salvage services, they remove all parts that can be reused or refurbished. Salvagers store the parts and usually keep a listing to make it easy for people who need used parts to buy them. Car repair and restoration is a hobby for some and necessity for others.

Buying used car parts is usually more cost-effective than buying new. This is true for the individual and the environment. Lower demand for new parts reduces the number of raw materials extracted or produced.

At the same time, there’s no economic disadvantage to reusing parts, on balance. Automotive repair and salvage services is a thriving sector around the world.


The next step after reuse is recycling. Most of what can’t be reused from a scrapped car is recycled. In 2016 in the U.K., 95% of the materials in scrapped cars were diverted from landfill through reuse and recycling.

There’s regulation to guide and check recycling. Metals, glass, and some plastics found in motor vehicles are recyclable. It’s not uncommon for recycling operators to capture operational emissions. The emissions can power turbines that supply sustainable energy for other on-site processes.

Recycled tyres become a wide range of consumer and commercial products. These include rubber paving, roofing shakes, playroom flooring, garden beds, shoes, and backpacks.

Recycled materials help temper the rate of new natural resources extraction. The economic benefit to helping the environment shifts to other sectors.

Contributing to Sustainable Production

Manufacturers use materials recycled from scrap when they build new cars, especially metal and rubber. This has two benefits. It can reduce the cost of production and slow the pace of extracting raw materials.

Plus, strict regulations on car manufacturers improve energy efficiency. They also help control water usage in production processes. Some manufacturers have on-site solar and wind energy production to fuel their operations.

Safe Disposal of Fluids

Not everything in a scrapped car is reusable or recyclable. This is most often true of fluids. Cars have several fluids that are, at best, unfriendly to the environment. At worst, they are toxic to people, plants, and wildlife.

Proper disposal is critical. Professional salvagers use health and safety guidelines to dispose of a car’s fluids. These include: antifreeze, petrol, brake fluid, motor oil, and transmission and power-steering fluids.

If you leave a car to deteriorate outdoors, fluids seep out and can damage nearby soil and water. If you take your end-of-life car to a disreputable business, the dumping of fluids into water and soil is a risk. Dumping damages the health of plants, ground water, and animals.

Safe Disposal of Other Hazard Materials

Cars contain several hazardous materials. There’s mercury in headlamps, light switch assemblies, and ABS brake sensors. Wheel weights and batteries contain lead. There are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in air-conditioners, sodium azide in air bags, and asbestos in brake shoes and clutches.

Professional salvage yards use proper procedures to handle components that contain hazardous materials. They also have established methods for the safe disposal of hazardous waste.

Protecting the Environment

Modern and forward-thinking salvage service providers are mindful of the cost to the environment if mishandled scrapped cars.

In the U.K., many vehicle salvage businesses do their part to protect the environment. Many regulations and programs support these efforts.

If protecting the environment is important to you, there are questions you can ask an auto salvager. The answers can help you decide if they are the service provider for you:

  • Does the salvage provider remove and resell the parts themselves? (Doing so reduces the cost of transportation and provides transparency to the process.)
  • Does the salvage provider have standing relationships with reputable recycling businesses?
  • Do they separate out different materials such as metal, glass, and plastic? (On-site separation leads to better quality recycled end-products compared to mixed-material recycling.)
  • Are their workers trained in the safe removal and disposal of hazardous materials?
  • How do they dispose of fluids and other hazardous materials?
  • Are they in control of disposal sites for hazardous materials? If so, are the sites designed to prevent toxins from leaking into soil and ground water?
  • Are they aligned with environmental associations?

In Summary

There is always much to consider when scrapping a car. Knowing that you’re helping the environment can be an attractive bonus.

In addition to deciding how you will replace the old car — no car, used car, or new car all help the environment in different ways — a little research can go a long way.

We have been salvaging vehicles for decades. We take pride in our contributions to a cleaner, more sustainable environment.

If you’re thinking about scrapping your car, contact us anytime. We’re here to answer your questions and provide you with quality service.

Author: Silverlake

At Silverlake, you can scrap your car, buy vehicle salvage, and purchase recycled car parts at affordable prices.