Vehicle recycling- Economic provider or economic hazard?
Everything has an expiration date, so what happens to the waste? The vehicle recycling industry provides approximately 14 million tons of steel to be reused in the process of making new vehicles. The industry alone generates around 25 billion dollars per year, employing nearly 100,000 workers.
The process begins by removing the wheels, tires, battery, and catalytic converter to be scrapped for parts. Next the fluids such as the engine coolant, oil, transmission fluid, air conditioning refrigerant, and gasoline are drained and hazardous materials- mercury and sodium azide are removed. After the remainder of the shell has gone through processing which includes removal of the air conditioner evaporator, heater core, and wiring harness the carcass is then crushed or cubed.
75% of the materials can be recycled, overall saving 1.25 tons of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal, 120 pounds of limestone, 13/14 tons of steel, and about 40,000 gallons of water. Recycling steel SAVES energy and natural resources, enough to power about 18 million households for a year!
But what is this possibly doing to our environment?
Landfills incubate pollution in the environment by contaminating the groundwater and aquifers, contaminating the soil, and producing methane into the air we breathe. (Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide!) And Mercury has similar effects…
2100 pounds of mercury is collected from recycled engines- exposure has been recorded to cause symptoms such as trembling hands, numbness or tingling in the lips, tongue, fingers or toes. Higher exposures have caused impaired walking, eyesight, speech and hearing and in more sufficient quantities, methyl-mercury can be fatal because it is toxic to the nervous system — the brain and spinal cord.
Human and wildlife are endangered by these health risks and the inability to reproduce has been reported in sea creatures and bird life.
Our carbon footprints will forever effect our environment and its creatures. As a society, what can we do to protect our world and empower change?
These “Greenhouse Gases” inhabiting our environment are created by human hands and industrial production. The real controversy here is not to put people out of jobs but to better the way of production for a cleaner, healthier environment.