Michigan Junk Yards: Technology in an Unlikely Place
February 27, 2009
For every shiny new car on the showroom floor, one will end up in a junk yard. So much attention is paid to the production of vehicles that come out of Michigan; not much is paid to where these vehicles ultimately end up. With recycling and the environment at the forefront of the news today, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at this booming industry. At one time salvage yards were simply bone yards full of rusting metal skeletons that had outlived their usefulness. These salvage yards, or automotive recyclers as they prefer to be called, keep highways and roads clear of abandoned and disabled vehicles by providing a place to deposit them. Today these places are surprising places that are full of technology and innovation.
As members of the ARA or Automotive Recyclers Association, the revamped salvage yards in Michigan are licensed recycling facilities with skilled employees trained in the latest advancements in hazardous waste handling. They are regularly inspected by the Environmental Protection Agency and are dedicated to the safe removal and disposal of hazardous wastes left from inoperable motor vehicles. Many of the Auto Recyclers in Michigan invest in the latest technologies from computer equipment to handle inventory to the machinery used to compact the metal leftover when all usable parts have been removed from the vehicle. With this technology at their finger tips, the majority of auto recyclers in Michigan can often locate parts faster than new part dealers because facilities are interconnected to each other via direct access inventory systems, telephone and satellite. And not only can they do it faster, they can provide parts at a lower cost, many times with a savings of up to 50%. Today over 95% of vehicles retired from use are processed for recycling and since 1997 automotive recyclers have reclaimed enough steel from salvage vehicles to build 13 million new cars, as well as saved an estimated 85 million barrels of oil a year that would have been used the manufacturing of new or replacement parts.
In 1996, the state of Michigan received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through its Jobs Through Recycling program to look at ways to handle the 3 million tons of waste that are leftover once all reuseable parts have been reclaimed by the salvage yards.
MICAR is a certification program put in place by the Automotive Recyclers of Michigan that assists participating automotive recycling facilities meet general business, environmental, safety, licensing and regulatory standards. Once a facility has been MICAR approved and accredited by the Automotive Recyclers Association, it is eligible to participate in the ARA’s Gold standard which focuses on excellent customer service, quality parts and environmental awareness. MICAR approved facilities receive unannounced audits to ensure that all EPA guidelines concerning safe handling of hazardous wastes are being implemented.
From implementing the latest technology for the reclamation of useable parts to compliance with strict EPA and industry standards, Michigan salvage yards have committed themselves to furthing the automotive recycling industry through various services and programs.
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