|Auto recycling: Rough roads ahead
The biggest problem in the automobile recycling business boils down to one thing – lack of cars. “Salvage acquisition continues to be the number one issue affecting the industry,” said Michael E. Wilson, chief executive officer of the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA).
The ARA is a national trade group for salvage yards, used parts dealers and scrap processors. Wilson says there are about 8,400 United States auto recycling businesses, generating about $23 billion worth each year.
The industry does a lot of good, both economically and environmentally. About 95 percent of vehicles retired from use are recycled. The process saves an estimated 85 million barrels of oil per year that would have been used to manufacture replacement parts.
Engines and transmissions are the most valuable and popular parts. However, virtually everything from upholstery to tires can be recycled into other products. In practice, about 84 percent of each vehicle is recycled one way or another.
An engine and transmission from a single car can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Smaller parts, such as catalytic converters, can be worth up to $250 each due to the platinum used in the converter. ...read more
Composting accident won’t slow industry’s growth
The October 2011 deaths of two California composting company workers raise safety concerns just as the industry appears ready to grow. State and local mandates for more solid waste recycling require more food and yard waste composting. But air and water quality regulations are also tightening. And the recent deaths, coming three years after a similar fatal accident in British Columbia, mean the industry has to clean up its image to fulfill its promise.
Michael Virga thinks the challenge is surmountable. “This was an isolated incident in California,” said Virga, executive director of the US Composting Council in Ronkonkoma, New York. While this case, involving two brothers one of whom died trying to rescue the other, is particularly tragic, Virga noted that all manufacturing industries experience unfortunate and sometimes fatal incidents.
“No matter how well you do and drill into employees the safety protocols, sometimes you have accidents,” he said. “We’re tracking this and thinking about how we can get better and offer more training opportunities.”
The outcome for the California company where the workers died, Community Recycling & Resource Recovery Inc. of Lamont, is uncertain. The accident occurred October 12, when a worker cleaning out a drainage tunnel inhaled a fatal dose of hydrogen sulfide. His brother went into the 8’ deep shaft to rescue him, but was also overcome and later died. ...read