Staying Green In The Scrap Yard: How To Identify Sustainable Salvage Practices

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One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint as a car owner is to source your replacement car parts from salvage yards and support scrap metal recycling in your area. However, not all auto part yards are created equally. Here's how you can tell a poorly designed scrap yard from one that is implementing earth-friendly business practices. 

1. They'll follow the law.

Technically, a scrap yard cannot be made just anywhere. A municipality needs to make sure that the piles of cars and car parts do not reduce property values or affect the health of the community. If a rural neighbor collects scrap cars and sells parts from the backyard, they are likely operating without the state approval for health and safety required from the state. Even an operation that is large and looks legitimate might not be. Usually, legal junkyards will not:

  • abut a water source like a stream or pond. Since old cars and other machinery can leech heavy metals, this puts the water supply in jeopardy. 
  • spill into neighboring properties. They are usually located out of dense business areas.
  • be authorized to be in residential areas. Property values can be reduced by scrap yards being too close to housing developments. 
  • be built too close to major roadways

Instead of supporting backyard efforts, it's best to get recycled parts from licensed businesses that proudly display their permits on the wall.

2. They will be aware of potentially dangerous environment contamination.

Before purchasing parts or cars from a salvage yard, you can ask what is done to help protect the land from contamination. For example, if cars are not properly drained before they are parked and piled on the lot, fluids can leak into the soil. Anti-freeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, oil, and leftover gasoline should all be drained and removed from the cars unless the salvage yard sells cars that are meant to be driven off the lot. Not all environmental statutes require this level of care, so it always helps to ask. Recycling cars can help preserve natural resources, so those salvage yards that go the extra mile to make sure the groundwater and pollution levels are not affected deserve your business. 

3. Things won't get too piled up.

Responsible salvage yards are not an alternative to the landfill -- things should not just keep piling up. Selling used car parts is only part of the equation. A green-minded scrap company will also:

  • break cars down into useable parts. Some scrap yard allow people to take the cars apart themselves, saving on labor. However, a "picked clean" car should still be broken down and hauled away to a disposal or recycling site. 
  • provide used, quality parts to local mechanics as a low-cost alternative to buying new.
  • sell or trade commodities like copper, steel, aluminum and iron. Wiring from cars produces plenty of copper, which can be used to make new wires and electronics. 
  • recycle or collect old tires to be turned into mulch and other recycled products.
  • work with city or country junk collection efforts to try and reduce backyard scrap collection and old-car waste in the community.

 If things like too piled up and you notice valuable parts simply rusting away instead of being actively processed and recycled, it's better to keep looking for a more responsible salvage dealer. 

You can make green choices when it comes to finding car parts and recycling your scrap metal. Look for an earth-friendly salvage yard in your area for more information about how they reduce emissions and pollutions as they reuse and recycle old cars.