Cash For Clunkers Hurt The Environment

Cash for Clunkers: Another costly green scheme gone wrong.

Though almost a million people poured into car dealerships eager to exchange their old jalopies for something shiny and new, recent reports indicate the entire program may have actually hurt theenvironment far more than it helped.

According to E Magazine, the “Clunkers” program, which is officially known as the Car Allowance Rebates System (CARS), produced tons of unnecessary waste while doing little to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The program’s first mistake seems to have been its focus on car shredding, instead of car recycling. With 690,000 vehicles traded in, that’s a pretty big mistake.

According to the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), automobiles are almost completely recyclable, down to their engine oil and brake fluid. But many of the “Cash for Clunkers” cars were never sent to recycling facilities. The agency reports that the cars’ engines were instead destroyed by federal mandate, in order to prevent dealers from illicitly reselling the vehicles later.

The remaining parts of each car could then be put up for auction, but program guidelines also required that after 180 days, no matter how much of the car was left, the parts woud be sent to a junkyard and shredded.

Shredding vehicles results in its own environmental nightmare. For each ton of metal produced by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of “shredding residue” is also produced, which includes polyurethane foams, metal oxides, glass and dirt. All totaled, about 4.5 million tons of that residue is already produced on average every year. Where does it go? Right into a landfill.

E Magazine states recycling just the plastic and metal alone from the CARS scraps would have saved 24 million barrels of oil. (Read More)

So they wouldn’t let the dealers recycle the parts because they didn’t want them to earn a profit! How typical.

Update: Linked by the First Street Journal – thanks!