Have you ever wondered what happens to cars after they outlive their utility? Are they swallowed up by the earth? Do they disintegrate into the ether? Where do all those millions of old, useless cars go?
End of life vehicles
The industry term for such cars is end of life vehicles (ELVs) – vehicles that are of no use except as waste. In developed countries, these vehicles are disposed of or recycled in ways that are friendly to our health and environment because of stringent regulatory norms.
In countries like India, where regulations are non-existent, the vehicles end up in unorganised scrap markets like Mayapuri in Delhi or Kurla in Mumbai, often with total disregard to the environment and the health of the people who handle the scrap.
The Indian government has been mulling legislation on management and recycling of end-of-life vehicles for a long time now. Currently, India has about 8.7 million ELVs. By 2025, the number will soar to over 22 million. Old cars present a serious health and environmental hazard, especially when they are disposed of without proper processes and technologies.
Why are old cars such a threat to the environment and the health of the community?
Eco and health hazard
Vehicles contain large quantities of hazardous substances such as waste oil, lubricants, batteries with lead and acid, mercury, lamps, electronics, plastic, air bags, etc. Unskilled and untrained labourers using rudimentary tools and no protective gear face great risks to their health.
Informal scrappers do not follow systems and processes in how this material is disposed of, and end up contaminating the environment. Oil and other toxic substances are simply bled into the ground. Hazardous gases are allowed to escape into the air. Waste glass and plastic are just discarded.
The recycling advantage
Globally the benefits of recycling cars to the environment and the economy has been well-documented. Consider these statistics:
- 65% of a car’s body weight is made up of steel. Recycling steel saves energy and resources
- Recycling one tonne of steel saves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone
- Every year, the steel industry saves enough energy to power 18 million households for a year through recycling
- Recycling metal also uses about 74 percent less energy than making metal.
- Recyclers save an estimated 85 million barrels of oil annually that would have been used in the manufacturing of other parts.
- Car recycling keeps 11 million tonnes of steel and 800,000 non-ferrous metals out of landfills and back in consumer use
The Indian experience
Change is coming slowly to India. Informal scrap markets like those in Mayapuri and Kurla continue to be the first stop for those looking to get rid of their ELVs. However, companies like Cero, a joint venture between Mahindra Intertrade and the PSU MSTC, are hoping to change that. These companies are using state-of-the-art equipment, trained manpower, and robust processes to reduce the environmental and health impact of ELVs.
How can you as an ELV owner benefit from these services?
- Legal certification about the scrapping of your car. No more worries about the misuse of your ELV
- End-to-end service – pick up, deregistration, and scrapping
- Digital tracking of your vehicle’s scrapping status
- Peace of mind, knowing that your vehicle has been disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way.