When you buy a new or used car from the dealership, you typically hand over your current car in return. But what happens to your old ride after you drive off in the new one?
Usually, the car is re-sold or disassembled for materials recovery and recycling. But recycling some components of the car, like airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners, present a bigger problem for dealerships.
Both un-deployed airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners contain potentially hazardous substances like sodium azide.The EPA left it up to each state to decide whether airbags and pre-tensioners are considered hazardous waste, and many states – including Oregon, Colorado and Wisconsin – were quick to say yes.
Dealerships have to stay up-to-date on any relevant state laws and, in the absence of any state legislation pertaining to the materials, are required to view these components as hazardous waste.
KPA, a Colorado-based dealer services provider that serves 4,000 dealerships and service companies nationwide, is offering a new recycling program to help its clients handle airbags and pre-tensioners properly and recover materials for recycling.
“The biggest challenge for our clients is to properly and cost-effectively handle and label the un-deployed airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners for shipping,” explains Eric Schmitz, vice president of product and business development at KPA. “KPA makes sure that dealerships have their bases covered before they ship…to the recycling facility.”
Airbags and pre-tensioners recovered through the program are disassembled and more than 95 percent of the materials are recycled for reuse in other products, the company said.