Green living refers to an activity that contributes to minimizing or eliminating toxins from environment and improving personal health and energy. There are many activities that can have a positive impact on the environment, such as eating organically grown food, choosing paper bags instead of plastic bags, recycling beer cans, installing an environmentally friendly floor in your home or driving a fuel efficient car. A recent emerging trend is recycling of automobiles to achieve a greener environment.
When the majority of cars have outlived their usefulness, they are taken to scrap yards where the cars are shredded and the remaining material (primarily comprising of iron and steel) is then recycled back into automobiles, appliances and other products. Automobiles make one of the most recycled products in the world as three out of four tonnes of new steel is made from recycled steel. Other car parts such as brake pads, shoes, oil filters, rubberized seals, polyurethane seat foam, seat covers, floor mats, rims, windshield glass and side windows glass can also be recycled for use in new automobiles.
Automobile recycling confers countless benefits on the environment. It helps preserve natural resources and protects the environment from contamination by recycling usable components and parts. It helps reduce water and air pollution and saves landfill space. As automobile recycling minimizes the need for processing virgin materials, it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions particularly sulfur dioxide which have detrimental effects on the environment and human health.
Automobile recycling uses far less energy than that needed for car manufacturing. This, in turn, reduces the amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other carbon compounds released into the atmosphere and helps conserve valuable reserves of gas, coal and oil. Recycling vehicles and their spare parts can save as much as 80 million barrels of oil and 40000 tonnes of coal a year.
Automobile recycling helps conserve energy as recycling one kilogram of steel saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 85 hours. Recycling automotive glass (windshields and sunroofs) helps reduce water pollution by 45 percent and air pollution by 25 percent. Recycling metal saves up to 70 percent energy and 30 percent water consumption. Recycling one ton of oil filters not only saves 9 cubic yards of landfill space, but it also yields 1700 pounds of steel. Recycling oil filters helps prevent petroleum hydrocarbons from contaminating water, air and soil. It helps reduce water pollution by about 75 percent and air pollution by 80 percent. Recycling of brake pads and shoes produces a combination of synthetic materials and copper.
Auto recyclers should control the recycling operations at the scrap yards to reduce the risk of releasing harmful petroleum compounds and toxic fluids into the environment. Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum and chromium should not be allowed to leach into the ground. Similarly, acids from solvents, batteries and degreasers should be properly disposed of as they can interfere with the chemistry of soil and create health hazards for marine life as well as humans.