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Can I Recycle My Car?

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Car Recycling

Landfills across the country — and across the world — are piling up. The United States is the largest trash-producing country in the world with each person generating up to 1,609 pounds of trash every year. Many people across the country are making an effort to focus on sustainability, and that includes recycling.

So what happens when your car breaks down or ends up in an accident, and it’s beyond the point of repair? If you haul your car off to the landfill, your carbon footprint will continue to grow. Americans dump 220 million tires into landfills each year, and each one takes up to 80 years to decompose. So what’s the solution?

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Well, first, you want to identify what types of materials you’re dealing with. Cars are complex machines, made up of several kinds of metal, plastic, rubber, glass, fluids, and fabrics. Several of these materials — including aluminum, steel, and iron — are recyclable. Of course, you don’t have to take the car apart yourself. There are services that will dispose of the materials properly, or you can reach out to a local mechanic and see if they can use any of the parts. You can also repurpose some of the vehicle’s parts, such as the tires. You can use the rubber for a variety of things, or use the entire tire for outdoor landscaping, storage, or other DIY projects.

If you think your car may have a chance, but you just can’t afford to fix it up, consider donating it to an organization that will. Some organizations even accept vehicles that don’t even run anymore. According to Trisha, a contributor at Going Zero Waste, an organization called Wheels 4 Hope dedicates its mission to restoring old cars to provide affordable transportation for people in the North Carolina Triangle and Triad. “The organization works with local mechanics to do their best in restoring the vehicles,” says Trisha. “Not all cars are able to be completely repaired to working condition, but even the non-working cars are still used. The company will use the spare parts to fix other cars that are brought in.”

Before you haul your totaled car off to the landfill, consider the ways you can recycle and repurpose some of its parts and reduce your carbon footprint.

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Sources: A Recycling Revolution, American Iron and Steel Institute, Going Zero Waste, Wheels 4 Hope