Automobiles Filling Up Junk Yards and Landfills

We see run-out, decaying, junky cars in front yards, in fields, tow yards, auto auctions back yards, junkyards, and dump areas set aside for this purpose. Hawaii, the Big Island, we saw areas where the cars were just piled up. Well on an island it is a big problem because as the population expands so do the cars and if people buy new cars what about all the old ones? Well, they pile up, and then what do you do? It costs money to ship cars off the island, so you trade in your old car and let the dealership deal with it, but he doesn’t want it either.


In front yards of mobile homes, we have seen years of junked cars rusting away in GA, AL, LA, MS, SC. We are talking total junk, not just undrivable but neighborhood rodents and varmints living in them. As a kid; the local cities would have junk days where they would go to the canyons and hit the streets to pick up abandoned vehicles and take them to a metal recycler or crusher. CA had a CRV-California Redemption value so you could get money for the metal in aluminum cans, old cars, or plastic containers. Each year in this country, vehicles are recycled, crushed, sent to the middle east in containers, and of course, recently, in the last six years, we have had a big push to donate to a church or synagogue or non-profit. Good idea; I can remember making money for one non-profit group allowing people to smash a baseball bat for $1.00 per hit, with a guaranteed uncorked bat. But suspension if you hit the safety glass. Later, when OSHA standards came out as Senior Class President of the HS, we started wearing goggles when we allowed the people to smash the car. Then a friend whose dad owned a tow company took it to Pick-Your-Part Junk Yard in the Valley, today totally wired with every make and model and part listed on the Internet and most hard to find stuff on eBay, and all the junkyards are all interconnected on a trunk repeater Motorola Radio System. The junkyard business has really progressed over the years.

America has a love for the automobile, and many of the old cars are fixed up. About a decade ago, you may recall a program where oil companies in some states could buy old cars and get them off the streets and trade for pollution credits, of which El Paso and Enron both enjoyed trading. Enron traded everything from Lumber futures and pollution to energy and just about anything consumable that the Boys in Chicago had not yet created the market for. If it is not bolted to the floor and contracts were drawn for future use, you can bet it was on the potential list to be traded. Bandwidth, oil pipeline capacity, the water, you name it. Commoditizing the world has advantages, and this is one way to control the junk and costs associated. This has always been a free enterprise theme to reduce pollution here in the US.

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In the European Union, 7.3 million cars per year are ELV’ed, or ELV Treated. However, 11 million total sent to the graveyard, furnace, junkyard, or recycle crushers, first plastics and other items are taken apart. In the US, we just crush the crap out of them and deal with the entire pancake. Let’s face it; this is a good start. The problem is that each country in the EU has different guidelines; these countries can never make up their mind. For instance, the debt borrowing of the Euro in Germany and France and the rest of the countries having to pay later for the hamburger today.

In the US, we have the United States, although we often act like the United Countries, although we are not much better as in almost every industry we have a different set of laws. Even smaller states with little population bases have conflicting laws, such as VT, ID, WY, MT, NM, NH, RI, WV, IA, NE, ND, SD. States like CA, OR, WA, MA act like socialist countries and obviously are paying for it now. Beware the socialists to make all things equal; they can ruin anything, ask Plato. The problem being making non-linear decisions for the best of the country is nearly impossible; for us to come to terms with our leadership role in the Americas, we have a lot to be desired on many a front.

We can do better than this, but we fight over the means. Why? There can be no excuse. No wonder we cannot come up with solutions to issues like the junked vehicles, which leak all kinds of things when they rot in fields and bleed iron oxides, heavy metals asbestos, and oil, fuel (turns to varnish), brake fluids, radiator fluids and obviously leach into the groundwater pf the local farm and cause all kinds of cancers and problems with kidneys. There are issues. But also, we see old farm implements and other equipment junked outback. You can see this on every back highway in America, and every small town serviced or within 100 miles of a Wal-Mart. In other words, everywhere in every small town. Starting in January of 2007, all European Cars sold will be the responsibility of the manufacturer no matter how long the vehicle is in service.

If a new Ford Minivan is in a crash after only 2 months on the road, it will be Ford’s responsibility. If it is on the road for 40 years and then junked, it will be Ford’s problem. It sounds a bit of a problem to me, like our underfunded pensions in this country, of which the Big three are probably a good example of a serious problem with blue-chip companies—a scary thought. You see, as countries become more socialist, the consumer will not be responsible for anything.

Right now, 75% of vehicles in the EU are ELV’ed. They wish to increase this to 85% by 2006, a noble cause—95% by 2015. But we know this is absolutely the wrong way to do this after all the State of CA set and dictated a timeline for electric vehicles, and that did not work, today in the Business News, GM announced it was completely cutting the plug on all-electric vehicles for the newer technology of Fuel Cell. And pursuing the Fuel Cell development project with UPD. Meanwhile, with all the EPA deadlines unmet and all the passed costs to businesses by light, Medium and Heavy duty truck manufacturers, FedEx’s Fred Smith put out a challenge that he wanted 50% more fuel-efficient units with 90% fewer emissions. Apparently, these do-gooders do not understand entrepreneurship. Otherwise, they would be solving the world’s problems by creating, not accusing.

Renault adopted a plan on their own called LEM-Life-Cycle Management and found 13 key vendors to achieve this, a much better and well-organized plan this was back in 1999. They made all components recyclable, well 90% including the plastics and other materials for their top-selling cars; Laguna II, Mid Size Panel Vans (you have seen them in cops and robber movies in France chasing James Bond), Clio II, and the Val Satis. An excellent achievement for the French Car Company. Similar to the 90% of their recycled story about the Oil for Arms Program with Iraq. Did I say Arms, no no FOOD, we Food, yes food, silly me. Another idea of the ELV program is to easily disassemble parts, like what Dell is doing with computer trade-ins; yes, Michael is always leading edge; he deserves an award.junk

You see, when you take apart computers, ancient ones, they have gold plated components on the circuit boards and connections. Dell only charges $15.00 to recycle, and they get at least $8-22 in gold out of each one. Once apart, they can be 67% recycled. The EU wants certain things to no longer be used to manufacture cars, such as mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, and lead. Most US Manufacturers have already done this completely, and the rest will soon be completed. Smaller companies such as MG Rover, which use to produce millions of cars, now only sell 200,000 per year in the UK; the UK likes the idea and is up with compliance anyway, seeing as they agree since they are on an island. But you can always drive the cars to Europe in the Chunnel, and they do not want the reciprocate; the UK says we are not a junkyard.


The UK has its own plan called: ACORD-Automotive Consortium on Recycling and Disposal. They are proposing a cash incentive for turning in a vehicle. The Economist and the Futurists have both had articles on this thought. It is similar to the Oil Companies paying to get off the road those cars that would not run on Unleaded fuels and needed the lead additive. In this case, people were paid to dispose of, though people are paid to dispose of properly. The UK would let the manufacturers off the hook and let the owner be responsible after all, they own the car, and there is no telling how many owners a car in Europe may have had during its life before it became an end of life vehicle like Logan in Logan’s Run and had to be renewed.

The UK’s Motor Vehicle Dismantlers Association agreed that the owner would be given the $75.00 equivalent in pounds as an incentive. Probably also would need to be based on inflation and the CPI-Consumer Price Index. You know the Brits in their need to be exact; they are all wannabe economists. Failure to properly dispose and renew the registration on the vehicle would mean that the fine penalty would be issued to their driver’s license; they are more connected there. But the problem is inconsistencies. For instance, Greece had no shredding sites, while Germany has 42, Italy 16, France 42, and the UK 37 total. The problem too is that those cars from others countries in Europe would not be able to take their cars to the UK, they only want to dispose of their own cars, not everyone else’s. Obviously, they do not want to pay the $75.00 for every citizen in Europe who wants their car melted and shredded.

In Austria, which makes no cars, they want to be paid and have the other countries come to pick up the damn cars; Germany says we can do this since they will levy, guess what another TAX or they call it a LEVY of $100.00, but that levy is dry. Austria is saying that will be the day when I die, meaning Yah Right? Like you guys in Germany are so far in debt you will steal the money from Peter to pay Paul, and we will never see a dime of that, and we know it. Germany, of course, loves the upfront money. Ever since Hitler’s economic policy of collecting goods in trade upfront and holding payments against those goods until they strung out vendors (countries) like Sears and then owned you. No one is fooling the Austrians. They could care less because they do not make cars anyway, figuring it is everyone else’s problem, so get your cars and forget about us building any shredder plants in our beautiful country.

France and Spain are taking the approach that the manufacturer should pay the difference between the scrap collected value and the cost to scrap it. Good idea, but what about mergers of car companies or those succumbing to the economic pressure of the low dollar today against the Euro. What about those who will not be here in 2015 when these cars are junked? Who pays for that? Like all these manufacturers will be here tomorrow? And in a merger, is the new company responsible? Lots of questions, the UK is still talking with industry and the cars well they keep piling up, in the United States we have more room. Still, many of these old automobiles have other issues and materials of yesteryear, just like the old aircraft in the desert is slowly decaying, and aluminum in the water may cause the immune system to attack the brain such in Alzheimer’s. Still not proven yet.

Another issue is if the Germans collect upfront and a premature incident such as the Floods in Prague where cars were junked early, the junkyards will sell the engines and other components. But also in accidents, theft recovery vehicles already paid on, small car fires, or terrorist’s being killed and bullet holes, these vehicles are not sellable. Still, parts can be taken off, why should the manufacturer have to pay, shouldn’t they get a refund? But Germany cannot pay everyone not to work and still have money left. These vehicles have gearboxes, engines, body parts, which may still be sellable.