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How Junking Old Cars Helps the Environment

kokou adzo



Junking Old Cars

More and more people nowadays are making an effort to be eco-conscious consumers. The eco-conscious lifestyle change requires consideration for how products are made, used, and where they go when they’re no longer useful.

While most people are familiar with what to do with old bottles or clothing they don’t wear anymore, many just aren’t aware of what happens to their car when they’re no longer drivable.

Disposing of vehicles in a landfill can have major environmental consequences, but luckily there’s a whole industry devoted to recycling cars responsibly and minimizing the environmental impact of the end of our cars’ lifecycles.

Junking Your Car Reduces Landfill Waste

Did you know the United States has nearly 14,000 landfills, over 3,000 of which are active? That’s a lot of space devoted to trash! Ideally, landfills are intended to hold whatever materials can’t be composted or recycled. In reality, landfills are unfortunately filled with items that could have been properly recycled. This sometimes includes cars.

Beyond the problem of occupying large amounts of valuable real estate, cars in landfills present some major risks. Cars are filled with a number of fluids that over time will leech into the soil.

This soil pollution can have consequences on plant growth in surrounding areas as well as the animals who eat the plants (including humans!). Toxins in the soil also eventually reach the water supply, carrying dangerous chemicals far from the original source in the landfill.

For the last 75 years or so, the issue of cars in landfills has been addressed by the auto recycling industry! Now one of the largest in the US, the auto recycling industry employs hundreds of thousands of people and contributes billions of dollars toward the GDP each year.

The process of recycling a car is complicated, due to the number of parts cars are made of and the variety of materials used to make them. That said, around 80 percent of the average vehicle is recyclable. That’s a lot of life left in your car!

That’s also why recycling your car can earn you cash — junkyards know your car is still valuable and will compensate you for it. With around 12 million clunkers being recycled annually, auto recyclers can be found hard at work just about anywhere.

How Car Recycling Works

When a car is recycled, it goes through a number of steps. First, all fluids are drained and properly disposed of with a hazardous materials agency. Next, the car is stripped of all usable parts. Just because a car has to be recycled doesn’t mean it’s not still full of good parts!

These parts are then resold to mechanics or car owners looking to make repairs at a more affordable rate. Used parts sell for anywhere between 20 and 80 percent cheaper than new ones!  In addition to saving other drivers money, the used auto part industry lessens the demand for manufacturing new parts. This lowered demand lowers the environmental impact of sourcing new materials and manufacturing new parts.

Next, all of the recyclable materials will be separated. In 80 percent of cars, that includes the battery. Other recyclable components are the aluminum and other metals that make up your car’s frame, plastic, glass, and rubber. In fact, tire rubber is an important component in road construction!

The remaining, non-recyclable part of your car will then be crushed up to be thrown away. This crushed up disposable material will be reduced to a size you could hold in one hand. That’s a huge space saver in the landfill, and without the threat of toxins leaching out!

If you’ve got a junk car you’re looking to recycle, there are a number of options available to you. No matter how you choose to sell your car, always remember to properly transfer your title. Some drivers may be led to believe that selling a junk car with no title is safe because the next owner won’t be driving it, but that’s actually not true.

Unfortunately, there are unprofessional businesses out there who will take advantage of unsuspecting drivers looking to do the right thing. When someone buys your car without transferring the title, you’re still financially and legally responsible for your car even though it’s no longer in your possession. This could leave you with some nasty “storage fees” down the road if the buyer never breaks your car down, and there’s not much recourse you’ll have to dispute the charges.

However, most junkyards are safe and with a few precautions you can assure you’re making a safe and legal sale. First, always verify that the business or buyer you’re working with is licensed to recycle cars or buy salvage vehicles. Individual buyers can buy and restore junk cars but require special licensing. You can also find buyers online if you’re not interested in shopping around for quotes by phone or in person.

Recycling your car when it’s reached the end of its road is the most environmentally friendly option, and it can get you paid in the process!


Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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