The recycling system for disused vehicles is not working properly in Finland. Many of the cars that are scrapped have not had hazardous materials properly dealt with before being recycled. Helsingin Sanomat reports that the normal handling involves removal of the car battery, as well as oil and fuel, after which the hazardous waste can be properly dealt with at facilities set up for the purpose.

The problem is that the preliminary processing system does not work. Of the approximately 100,000 vehicles that are scrapped each year, 70 per cent are left without having their liquids drained. About 70,000 scrapped cars each year fail to pass through officially approved handling stations for the removal of oil and petrol. This means that officials cannot ascertain that the removal of the hazardous materials is dealt with in a proper manner. As a result, about one million litres of fuel and oil are unaccounted for.

This amounts to 30 tank lorries worth of hazardous waste, which is probably dumped in the environment. Pekka Puputti, CEO of the Vehicle Recycling Centre, concedes that there is a problem. “Finland has a comprehensive system, but most of the scrap cars are recycled through shady figures. We know for sure that these cars are dried out somewhere in sand pits”, Puputti says. The problem stems from people seeking to make fast money in the junk business. With higher prices for raw materials, there is a good deal of money to be made in recycling cars.

Disused vehicles used to be seen as primarily a nuisance, and were typically left in forests or hidden behind farm buildings. Nowadays, car junk brings in so much money that a whole sector of shady business has cropped up behind it. Scrap merchants often search for raw material by placing notices grocery store bulletin boards, with contact information and prices offered for disused cars.

The price offered by the merchants can be between 10 and 20 euros. Such offers are competitive. Processing centres take the scrapped cars off the owners’ hands for free. Scrap merchants can get up to around EUR 100 when they sell the remains of cars to commercial scrap yards. The shady operators rarely bother dealing properly with hazardous waste.

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #38-2007-September 21, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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