Talking about environmental damage caused by cars is often limited to discussions that cover only fuel type and emissions. However, manufacture of cars themselves, other parameters of car operation and, finally, their disposal has not less impact on the environment. What other ways can be used to reduce the environmental impact of car operation?
New or second-hand car – which of them is more environmentally friendly?
Have you ever heard saying that operating an old car till its last day is more environmentally friendly than manufacturing a new electric car? Saying so people often try to justify the operation of old cars. However, this is not true. Yes, it is true that manufacture of electric cars leads to higher emissions of pollutants into the air due to the complex battery production and fossil elements used in the manufacture of cars. However, compared to an old car with an internal combustion engine, environmental damage caused during the manufacture of electric car pays off within 2-3 years of car operation.
Manufacturing and operating a new petrol or diesel car are more environmentally friendly. It is estimated that pollution emitted during the manufacture and disposal of the car accounts for just 22% of the car’s total environmental impact throughout the vehicle life cycle. This means that a new car that emits 100-130 g / km of CO2 will compensate, already within several years of operation, for the damage caused to the environment by old vehicle.
How to get rid of cars in a clean way?
Vehicle disposal is a grey zone in this ecology chain of the car’s life cycle. Many car components, such as various liquids, batteries, rubber, plastic, metal, are not environmentally friendly. Spilled liquids contaminate the soil and other components decompose very slowly. A long-lived car, left at the fence, will cause extremely serious damage to nature. For this reason, disposal of each car contributes to nature conservation and a more beautiful landscape
‘Firstly, before disposing of the car, it is assessed to determine the content and types of hazardous waste it contains, and, then, dismantling of the car is started with draining various fluids, such as oil, coolant, brake fluid, fuel. In dismantling the car, efforts are made to minimize environmental pollution. For this reason, cars are dismantled indoors to avoid any adverse effects on the environment’, – Agnius Skudutis, Customer Development specialist at RRR.lt, the platform administered by UAB Ovoko, told about neat dismantling of cars. The platform unites more than 700 car scrap yards, that legally operate in Lithuania.
The problem is that great deal of car components is not suitable for secondary use. For example, to reuse a car body, the metal needs to be recycled, and these processes require a lot of energy, the production of which leads to quite a lot of pollution.
Reuse is the example to follow
‘The car, which is handed over for disposal, is treated as waste, and, based on the principle of waste management hierarchy, reuse is one of waste management solutions, the attainment of which is highly welcomed. Therefore, in dismantling the car, the aim is to pick out as many reusable parts as possible in order to keep waste to a minimum, especially waste that ends up in landfills’, – said Agnius Skudutis, representative of RRR.lt.
Experts agree that there are very little vehicles which contain nothing that could be reused. In rare cases, no reusable parts are left in the vehicles when they are handed over for disposal after a severe fire. Yet, most cars that end up in car scrap yards contain more than one reusable parts.
Cars are serviceable for many years
As has been mentioned above, driving new cars is significantly more environmentally friendly. Theoretically, this is true. But in practice, not everyone can afford nearly new cars. And this is a case not just in Lithuania. Large used car markets exist both in the neighbouring countries and in reach ones, such as Germany, France, Great Britain and Denmark. The average age of the European Union car fleet is 11.5 years. It is estimated that the optimal service life of a passenger car should be at least 12 years and it has to travel a distance of more than 300 thousand km.
A car is an item that requires a lot of investment and the certain parts and assemblies of which need to be replaced on a regular basis. In parallel with manufacture of new cars, there exists a huge industry of spare parts, which results in no less pollution. Factories are one of the biggest polluters in the world. Production scale needs to be reduced to reduce pollution. In order to achieve lower production volumes, consumption needs to be reduced. This can be achieved by reusing technically neat assemblies.
How to protect oneself from the likelihood of purchasing a wrong second-hand apart?
‘New car parts cost quite a lot, and given that most cars in Lithuania are older than 10 years, some new parts may constitute a significant part of the price of the car. For this reason, it is much more worthwhile to purchase a required part from car dismantlers. And, naturally, if the car is 3-5 years old, then new parts are usually purchased, as such parts are not available in all car scrap yards. It is up to the buyer himself to decide whether or not the car part from the car scrap yard is good. In any case, all parts removed from dismantled cars are assessed, and parts that are reusable are stored, while worn parts are disposed of as waste and are handed over to other waste managers’, – explained Agnius Skudutis, representative of RRR.lt
Buying a new part at any auto parts store is of course easier than looking for a required part in dozens different scrap yards. And there is no guarantee that the part purchased will be suitable. The Lithuanian project RRR.lt, which unites more than 700 car scrap yards, has solved this puzzle. The car scrap yards publish information in the online store about available car parts. The buyer can quickly find the right parts with the help of a simple search function. A 10-day money-back guarantee ‘without asking further questions’ is probably the most important advantage of RRR.lt in the used parts market.