Automotive Shredder Residue | Special Waste Disposal

Each year more than 10 million automobiles reach the end of their useful life in the United States. Once a vehicle reaches the end of its useful life, it is oftentimes deregistered and sold to an automobile salvage facility where it may be utilized for parts or sent to an auto recycler to begin the next stage of its life, the recycling stage.

When an automobile is sent to an auto recycler, the vehicle will typically undergo a four-stage recycling process. During the first stage the vehicle is dismantled to retain any useable parts that may remain and to recover any fluids and/or batteries that may be hazardous or dangerous during the recycling process. Once all of the salvageable parts have been recovered and any hazardous materials have been removed, the automobile is ready to be crushed. Crushing allows for multiple vehicles to be stacked while they await transport to the next stage of the process which is known as shredding. Using a machine called a hammermill, crushed vehicles are shredded down to baseball-sized or smaller pieces. The final stage of the vehicle recycling process is the resource recovery stage. During resource recovery, ferrous metals (iron and steel) and non-ferrous metal (aluminum) are extracted from the shredded material to be re-melted for later use.

Until recently Automotive recyclers have been able to effectively recover between 80-85% of the total vehicle materials by weight during the recovery stage of the recycling process solely by collecting the residual scrap metal left behind after shredding. The remaining 15-20% of materials (plastics, wood, fabric, and glass) left behind that could not be recycled efficiently is known as automotive shredder residue (ASR) or auto fluff and is often disposed of in landfills, resulting in more than five millions tons of waste per year.

Recently the EPA has provided new interpretations of an existing regulation governing ASR that will allow for plastics to be recovered during the recycling process as long as the materials do not contain levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exceeding 50 parts per million. This new interpretation may reduce the amount of ASR that is landfilled each year by more than one million tons and may also help improve the material recovery rate for end of life vehicles to more than 90%.

Automotive recycling is a very effective method to recover and reuse valuable materials, but even with special care taken each step of the way, the possibility for material contamination from lead, cadmium, and PCBs along the way is still a concern. For this reason auto fluff is considered to be a type of special waste known as a pollution control waste. These types of special waste are regulated by federal, state, and local regulations and must be handled and disposed of properly by an authorized facility.

Millennium Waste and the Quad Cities Landfill are proudly committed to clean and responsible waste management. The Quad Cities Landfill facility is compliant with all state and federal regulations and is also approved to accept special wastes and pollution control wastes such as automotive shredder residue. If you would like to learn more about what materials are and are not accepted by Millennium Waste or the Quad Cities Landfill, please give us a call at 309-787-2303 and one of our qualified customer service representatives will be happy to assist you.

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