Jackie Thompson

Australian based recycling organization, Sims Metal Management, has announced that it’s going to spend $158 million to create multiple waste-to-energy centers which will put the metal produced from car shredding to good use. Each year, 12 million vehicles are destroyed and shredded in America. Meanwhile, Australia adds another 500,000 to the annual worldwide tally. Until recently, the metal scraps from shredded cars were sent to China and India. However, with them no longer taking such waste, it fell on Sims to take action.

Sims Metal Management’s Aims

Sims has stated that over the course of the next decade it will construct seven plants around the world, including in Australia, America, and the UK. Unsurprisingly, the first plant will pop up on Sims’s home turf of Australia, and is expected to open in 2022. It is hoped that this one base will dispose of one million tonnes of shredded automotive waste annually via gasification, and output excess energy for general use too.

Turning Vehicle Scraps into Energy

Once a vehicle is crushed it’s sent off to be shredded. This process results in mixed metal being produced, in addition to various other waste materials found in the typical vehicle, such as rubber, and glass. Sims states that this waste has a high energy content of  “about 16 megajoules per kilogram.” As a result, their long-term goal is for these plants to produce zero waste and for them to have no energy costs, due to the shredded automotive parts being able to produce it all for them.

Helping to Reduce Automotive Waste

Sim’s plan is a long-term one which will positively impact the waste and recycling industry over the coming decade and beyond. But, it’s essential that individuals and businesses cut their automotive waste now. Despite the typical car having a lifespan of 200,000 miles, the average motorist only keeps their vehicle for approximately six years. Many businesses choose to change their fleet of cars every few years because they think older cars are more expensive to maintain. However, one of the biggest automotive tricks of the trade to keep car maintenance costs to a minimum is to do them yourself. Tires, oil, and brake pads can all be changed by an amateur. Plus, it’s best to only change these when absolutely necessary, rather than automatically changing them on a routine service, as you’ll prevent non-essential waste from being produced.

The Current Vehicle Shredding Process

At present, there is no way of knowing where the shredded components of a vehicle end up. Each car disposal company will have its own process. And, while some parts end up in the landfill, others will be re-sold and reused within the automotive industry. But the benefit of Sims Metal Management’s plants is that you can be positive that any vehicle you dispose of will be reused in a beneficial and purposeful way.

The destruction of vehicles results in a significant amount of waste each year. However, Sims’s plans aim to use this waste for the benefit of the environment and will turn it into a powerful source of energy.