In light of Sadiq Khan’s recent efforts to tackle London’s air pollution via the ULEZ car and motorcycle scrappage scheme, the effect of motor vehicles on the environment is becoming increasingly scrutinised. Whilst the primary benefit of this scheme comes from the replacement of polluting vehicles with more environmentally friendly alternatives, the actual process of scrapping these old, inefficient cars produces a secondary environmental benefit through recycling.
Scrapping cars allows the steel typically used in their bodywork to be recycled. Whilst the recycled parts may end up back in car manufacturing, there is also massive scope for these recycled materials to contribute towards a whole range of other objects. For instance, recycled steel is used in train tracks, tins, pipes, and even jewellery. That being said, how exactly does scrapping and recycling cars have a positive effect on the environment?
Decreased Demand for Steel Production
To answer this question, we need to delve into the process by which we obtain steel. Steel is made using iron, which is obtained through the mining of iron ore; a process that damages the environment in a variety of ways. The act of mining for iron ore and converting it into steel produces a cocktail of dangerous gases – including nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide – all of which contribute to both air pollution and global warming.
Put simply, recycling steel means that there is less demand for steel, and consequently less demand for steel production (steel accounts for 95% of all metals produced!). In turn, by reducing how much steel needs to be produced, vehicle recycling helps to reduce the negative environmental consequences that come with mining for iron ore.
Scrapping and recycling vehicles can similarly benefit the environment by ensuring that car and motorcycle parts do not end up in landfill sites. Landfills are often seen as easy waste disposal options, with many people unaware of how truly environmentally damaging they can be. In reality, the accumulation of waste in landfill sites is one of the leading contributors to the contamination of soil in this country and around the globe.
Doing Your Bit for the Environment
Scrapping your old banger is often regarded as an economically savvy decision, but far less often do people suggest that it is an environmentally conscious one. However, as the world gradually moves towards a greener existence, the role of vehicle recycling should not be overlooked.