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Recycled parts are good for the environment, repair shops, and their customers

Recycled parts are good for the environment, repair shops,  and their customers

by Steve Sharp

Oakland, Calif.—Inexpensive OEM parts are readily available from local recyclers and using them is good for the environment, for businesses, and for customers, Alvin’s Auto Recycling Owner Alvin “Flash” Collier said.

Reprinted from Parts & People, Northern California Edition, May 2012

According to the Automotive Recyclers Association’s (ARA) newly launched www.greenrecycledparts.com website, recycled auto parts save an estimated 80 billion barrels of oil annually, and the total amount of oil and fluid reclaimed yearly by auto recyclers is equivalent to roughly eight Exxon Valdez spills. “No one even called it recycling when San Pablo Auto Wreckers opened on this site in 1923,” Collier said. Alvin’s resells or recycles everything from vehicles, including wiring, he said. “Copper wiring has become a valued recyclable. We used to fill a small can, and now we fill a large bin,” he said. “In-house, we recycle all of our paper, bottles, cans, and cardboard. Recycling is taking responsibility for our own waste and our environment. ” Collier’s wife and co- owner, Isabella, said that when selecting a recycler, it is important to confirm their certification. Certified recyclers are held to the highest standard of safety and practices, and provide the highest standard of products, she said. As a member of ARA and a Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR), Alvin’s is independently audited for compliance. “We are all about doing it right,” Flash Collier said. “It is a lot of work, but well worth it in the long run. ” Independent audits include facility inspections to ensure a clean and safe workplace plus a business practice review including licensing and permitting, he said. Audits also look at the disassembly procedure, recycling procedures, and the identification, categorization, and storage of parts, he said. “CAR certification has specific requirements for business procedures and the products we sell, as well as verifying regulatory compliance,” he said.

 

Today’s recycling process includes documentation of the end-of-life vehicle as well as its hazardous components, Collier said, and detailed records are maintained for state, local, and federal officials. Environmentally hazardous materials including tires, oil, coolant, batteries, wiring, and mercury switches are removed, documented and recycled. The balance of the vehicle is disassembled with each part labeled, including year, make, and model, as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN). “Vent glass, engine, or fan motor, it is all right there. They can take one look at the label and know exactly what vehicle it came from,” Collier said. Every receipt provides additional documentation including Alvin’s dismantler license number and the VIN information from each of the donor vehicles, he said. Besides the proper disposal and accounting of hazardous materials, information regarding the recycled vehicle is reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Justice prior to being sent to scrap.

 

“There is a reason there are fewer and fewer recyclers,” Collier said. “As a certified recycler, there are a lot of hoops to jump through. Yes, it is a lot of work — but ultimately we are doing the right thing for our customers, their customers, and the environment. ” Another area of concern is the availability of vehicles, especially through auction, he said. “I go to tow yards, dealerships and others for our vehicles so we are not dependent on auctions for our inventory. ” Alvin’s specializes in suspension, powertrain, and glass. “I probably have the largest selection of recycled auto glass in the Bay Area and it’s all reasonably priced,” Collier said. He said most of his sales are mechanical, rather than panel, and that he sells spindles for $50, for example, that are as much as $400 new. “We have OEM parts — used, yes — but good, clean warrantied parts that have been carefully inspected,” he said. Electrical items such as CPUs do not come with a warranty, Collier said, although he buys mostly late-model, low-mileage totals so the electronics are more reliable. Collier said his business is Internet-driven. “We are listed on car-part.com and car- partpro.com. I love it when they call and say they saw it on the Internet,” he said. “They know the part and they know the price.”

Collier said auto recyclers are a key part of the long-term environmental solution. “Repair shops, collision shops, and dealerships should all be partnering with a recycler. It is good for their customers, good for their business, and good for the environment,” he said.

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