Below is a guest article from Daniel Frank of Giveacar, a British charity that takes donations of cars and either scraps them in an environmentally sound way or auctions off usable cars to raise money for other charities. Groups like this exist in the U.S. as well and should always be on your radar when contemplating getting rid of a vehicle.
Junk your car and give something back: how scrapping your clunker can help lead the way to a more sustainable future
These days, nearly all the choices we make in our consumer purchases – whether they are about our home (or the things we put in it), the clothing we wear, or the food we eat – have a potential impact on our future and our environment.
So too with cars. Given the environmental concerns surrounding increasing car sales, when your current car is at the end of its working life, what’s the best decision to make? Do you sell it for scrap and buy a new, more environmentally friendly model? Do you sell it for scrap, take the ultimate test, and try to live without a car at all?
Over in the UK, where – especially in urban areas – more and more people are choosing to give up their cars, one man, after being inspired by US-based initiatives, has come up with an option for getting rid of your old motor in the most environmentally friendly way possible and giving to a good cause at the same time. With membership of car clubs nearly doubling from 64,679 in 2009 to 112,928 in 2010, who knows, perhaps people really are beginning to come around to the idea of a more sustainable future when it comes to car-reliance.
Giveacar’s founder Tom Chance started up his car donation fundraising organization – a first in the UK – after realizing two things: firstly, that there was an urgent need to address the environmental consequences of unregulated car disposal in Britain, and secondly, that the car scrap market was an untapped, potentially invaluable source of revenue for charities.
Giveacar offers a free service to its customers. They arrange for the collection and environmentally responsible scrapping and recycling of end-of-life motors. After a small deduction of administrative costs, the proceeds then go to a charity of the owner’s choice.
Over 2 million vehicles come off British roads every year, but half of these are left unaccounted for. They are not scrapped to environmental requirements, which stipulate that all cars must be disposed of at an Authorized Treatment Facility, where hazardous waste and pollutants are safely recovered or removed before the shell is sent off for recycling.
Many of the de-commissioned motors that are unaccounted for end up posing a significant environmental problem, as they are often left abandoned in driveways or by the road, leaching toxins and heavy metals into the ground, while oils and fluids are poured down sewers and drains. What’s more, some are illegally re-introduced onto the roads (after being supposedly junked by a dealer), leading to notable air pollution, not to mention safety, concerns.
Some 90% of the vehicles Giveacar receives are scrapped, and all to the highest possible environmental standards in authorized scrap yards, meaning that many heavy polluting cars are taken off the roads forever. In cases where a car has not reached the end of its life, and in recognition of the environmental costs of producing a new car, it is auctioned, thus generating more funds for charity.
Since it began last year, the Giveacar scheme has raised over $300,000 for over 250 charities, and has taken thousands of heavy polluters off Britain’s roads.