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At first glance, it appears that scrapping a car completely contradicts with the concept of sustainability. The first thing to do is check the CO2 emissions from your latest MOT and compare that with the model you'd like to replace it with.
Each vehicle made in Britain requires half the energy to produce than it did just five years ago, saving an estimated 700,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and total combined waste to landfill is down by more than half www.smmt.co.uk/publications.
Despite the environmental impact of mining, making, shipping and eventually crushing a car; the actual use has (up until now at least) by far the biggest effect on GHG emissions. Especially when you take into account the gas flaring that still occurs at many oil refineries.
This may not be the case for very long. Engineers are finding ways to harness the energy from gas flares, drivers are learning eco-driving skills, and new cars are becoming lighter and more fuel-efficient. Recycling a combustion-engined vehicle with thousands of mechanical parts could potentially provide a huge resource of raw material for new cars. If these cars have electric motors (fuel cell cars included), they will require far fewer moving parts. The long-term reliability of battery-electric cars is not yet proven on a large scale, but theoretically, less moving parts means better reliabilty and easier disassembly.
Recycling is pointless unless the material is being re-used. New light-weight composites designed to save fuel are often difficult or impossible to recycle. However aluminium (light-weight engine and body-parts), platinum (fuel cells), copper (electric motors) and certain plastics, can all be re-used - significantly reducing the huge ecological impact caused by extracting and producing them in the first place.
Re-use is not new to the car industry: In the early 1900s, Henry Ford re-used his wooden packing crates as body-parts in his Model T trucks. Today Ford is repeating the same trick by recycling lightweight plastic shipping containers into vehicle parts.
It is then down to the motorists who can afford it, to use the scrappage incentive to buy energy-efficient cars that will still be attractive when we decide to sell them on - eventually making geen-driving affordable to the masses.
Alternatively, sell your car and start using someone else's. Join a car-share club, car-pool or hire / borrow the most appropriate vehicle as and when you need it.
There are now hundreds of green taxis, hire-cars and shared cars available so you'll always be driving the most up-to-date, green and reliable cars on the market, without the hassle of ownership. More on car-sharing