In the context of contemporary research in the field of energy and recycling, there are a number of studies focused on direct and indirect energy use. However, in terms of a specific perspective of analyzing energy and recycling implications, it is important to collect different data, finding, and methodological parameters regarding the issues of minimization emissions from the global car stock, specifics of energy and recycling conditions of German automobiles, the recycling opportunities within their vehicle systems, as well as the taxation and other legal implications related to them.
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First of all, according to Stodolsky, among the issues that are concerning both the global level of car recycling and German industries specifically, in which case, it is important to consider the disposition of weight of the car . It is also suggested that one of the potential dangers of lack of attention to how minimizing the weight of a car can reduce energy consumption and improve various aspects of the recycling process is that this issue is most overlooked in passenger cars .
Moreover, it was found that it can also be suggested that all the potential for energy and economic savings in many ways can depend on light-weighting of automobiles . A special area of concern is, of course, passenger car since they represent a major share of the current vehicle market, with an approximate market share of 40 to 45% . For that reason, it is also important to point out that in contemporary vehicle market in Germany, there is a special concern over not only the growing emissions of greenhouse gasses but also over finding efficient ways of recycling vehicle parts in such a way that there is as little waste as possible.
In relation to this, Orsato, Hond, and Clegg note that the specific culture of political ecology in Europe views energy and recycling implications related to passenger automobiles as one of the priorities of improving the overall ecological situation .
According to Schmidt et al., in order to understand the results of car recycling, it is important to analyze the constituencies of a typical German passenger vehicle, its composition and materials used; in the current market, in standard automobile of such kind, there is 60-75% of metal and alloys, specifically aluminum the total car weight . At this point of automobile manufacturing development, such disposition implies that any process of recycling would require the precise knowledge of all the constituencies of a vehicle. However, in the context of German car market, the process is currently improving, particularly, the production process starts with using materials that are:
- more recyclable,
- more light-weight.
In such a way, in the majority of European countries, there are a number of regulations regarding the specifics of transitions towards light-weight passenger cars. In relation to this issue, the findings of Allwood et al. showed on the basis of a detailed analysis that the most frequently used materials in car manufacturing (which are aluminum, steel, and their alloys) can also be utilized in different sectors of the economy . Allwood et al. also found that the approaches, similar to those that are used in Germany regarding the implementation of more recyclable and more light-weight cars can reduce negative effects of both waste materials and energy consumption at the global level .
On the other hand, in the situation, where a variety of implication depends on the particular set of policies exercised by the governments, it is also important to take such variables as taxation of passenger vehicles and general political agenda towards environmental policies into consideration. In such a way, according to the findings by Schmidt et al., there should be an assessment of the linkage between lightness and recyclability of a vehicle . As a result, it is possible in Germany and some other European countries to regulate the criteria of car assessment, as well as requirements for a vehicle, depending on more specific circumstances.
Finally, it is also important to mention the findings of Orsato, Hond, and Clegg, who found that it is more efficient when different types of recycling correspond to different purposes . For example, on one hand, while such type of recycling that is accepted in the countries of EU as ELV shows a certain level of customer-specific appeal, therefore, can be more effective in markets with less regulation and taxation, VDA and BMU, on the other hand, revealed better results in terms of recycling efficiency in other circumstances .
In Germany, the ELV laws determine the majority of recycling regulations in the sphere of vehicle manufacturing. In particular, the taxation of the manufacturers depends on not only such factors as price and place in the market but also on car weight and its efficiency in terms of recyclability.
- F. Stodolsky, Life-cycle energy savings potential from aluminum-intensive vehicles. Argonne: Argonne National Laboratory, 1995.
- M. Bertram, K. Martchek and G. Rombach, “Material Flow Analysis in the Aluminum Industry”, Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 650-654, 2009.
- IPCC. “Transport and its infrastructure”, in Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- R. Orsato, F. den Hond and S. Clegg, “The Political Ecology of Automobile Recycling in Europe”, Organization Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 639-665, 2002.
- W. Schmidt, E. Dahlqvist, M. Finkbeiner, S. Krinke, S. Lazzari, D. Oschmann, S. Pichon and C. Thiel, “Life cycle assessment of lightweight and end-of-life scenarios for generic compact class passenger vehicles”, Int J LCA, vol. 9, no. 6, pp. 405-416, 2004.
- J. Allwood, J. Cullen and M. Carruth, Sustainable materials with both eyes open. Cambridge, England: UIT Cambridge Ltd., 2012.