The Effects Of Materials Substitution On Vehicle Recycling

The energy crisis of 1973 changed the purchasing patterns for cars. The real price of oil has fallen significantly since that time, and large cars are again in demand, especially in the United States. However, some of the move towards smaller and lighter vehicles is undoubtedly permanent, and the future shape of the vehicle recycling industry may be analysed in terms of possible changes in size and weight of cars, and also in their composition and mode of manufacture. A detailed analysis by Roig et al.10 divided the car by size into three market categories for the U.S.A. It presented data on 1975 model year vehicles and predicted materials use in 1980 and 1990 model year cars.

Significant conclusions regarding changes in recoverable values are difficult to make since no data are available which are precisely comparable with those of Dean and Sterner2 for the 1960 composite car. However, the nominal compositions derived by Roig10 may be used, with appropriate scrap metal values, to determine the relative value of the recoverable materials contained in 1960,1975, 1980, and 1990 model year vehicles.

These changes are given in Table 1, which shows scrap value changes at metal prices obtaining in April 1976 and December 1986. At those prices there is no clear trend in the values of materials recoverable from cars between the model years 1960 and 1990. Scrap values recalculated at December 1976 prices show that probable revenues for the 1980 and 1990 model years exhibit a drop of around 10% compared with the 1960 model year. What is clear is that, at any reasonable set of metal prices, revenues have not kept pace with inflation. Since metal prices can change significantly, particularly in the short term, there may be correspondingly large changes in profitability. The increase in the value of secondary aluminium between 1976 ($353/tonne) and 1986 ($554/tonne) reversed the decline in hulk dollar values attributable to reduced ferrous metal content. This change in the value ofthe recoverable scrap aluminium and the reduction in labour costs brought about by introduction of the shredder have been the dominant factors in maintaining the profitability of the recovery operation. A fall in the unit value of secondary aluminium could be equally significant in making it unprofitable.11

Figure 1 shows that a notional composite car would yield metals which would, in 1976, have commanded $106.85; at 1986 metal prices they would command only $108.51, an increase in ten years of 1.6% of the 1976 value. The cost of the necessary labour for hand-dismantling would, however, have risen from $31 to $54, a rise of 74% on the 1976 costs in the same period. No realistic data are available for the changes in the costs ofdisposal ofthe non-metallic residues, but they are known to be rising rapidly.

Table 1

Changes in scrap values for the 1975 composite car and the 1960 composite car (1976 and 1986 metal prices)

Table 1

Changes in scrap values for the 1975 composite car and the 1960 composite car (1976 and 1986 metal prices)

1975

1980

1990

a,b

c,d

a,b

c,d

a,b

c,d

Material

change (wt) kg

(value) $

change (wt) kg

(value) $

change (wt) kg

(value) $

Steel

-233

-12.11

-460

-23.92

-565

-29.38

Cast iron

58

5.22

-19

-1.71

-102

-9.18

aluminium

22

11.97

58

31.55

113

61.47

Red metalse

0.5

0.33

-3

-1.95

-8

-5.2

Zinc

-11

-3.01

-19

-5.21

-21

-5.76

Lead

-

-

-

-

-1

-0.06

Net change relative to

2.4

-1.24

11.89

1960*

Net change relative to

-0.86

-11.19

-9.55

1960**

a data for 1975 vehicle and projections for 1980 and 1990 from Ref.10

b reference points are the data from Ref.2

c other metals (alloying elements, etc.) and non-metallics are assigned zero value d metallic values are from Table 2 for 1986, and from a similar exercise for 1976

e red metals: copper and its alloys

  • calculated at December 1986 prices
  • calculated at April 1976 prices a data for 1975 vehicle and projections for 1980 and 1990 from Ref.10

b reference points are the data from Ref.2

c other metals (alloying elements, etc.) and non-metallics are assigned zero value d metallic values are from Table 2 for 1986, and from a similar exercise for 1976

e red metals: copper and its alloys

  • calculated at December 1986 prices
  • calculated at April 1976 prices

Clearly, by suitable choice of date, the analysis could be made to yield very different answers. However, it is clear that, to remain profitable in the face of any future increases in the costs of utilities and labour, the vehicle recycling industry must seek further improvements in its efficiency.

2 MODEL YEAR 2

Figure 1. Changes in recoverable metal values and labour costs for vehicles of 1960 - 1990 model year at April 1976 and December 1986 metal prices.

2 MODEL YEAR 2

Figure 1. Changes in recoverable metal values and labour costs for vehicles of 1960 - 1990 model year at April 1976 and December 1986 metal prices.

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