Cash For Clunkers – As Bad For The Environment As It Was The Economy
The economic failure of the Cash for Clunkers program are well understood, despite the administrations insistence it would function as economic stimulus. But the administration also trumpeted environmental concerns as a reason for instituting the subsidy program. So how did it do on that front? Miserably:
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 would 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.
Another terrific showing by central planners.