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March 2, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA) has received an Environmental Leadership Award from the California Unified Program Agency for an industry-led certification program called Partners in the Solution which ensures the industry is using best practices to protect the environment. The best practices were developed in collaboration with Sustainable Conservation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, and have achieved widespread industry adoption because they are practical, cost-effective and environmentally sound. Through education and audits, the Partners in the Solution program now covers all 179 SCADA members around the state.

Art Baggett, former Chairman and current member of the State Water Resources Control Board, said, "SCADA has taken a leadership role in promoting safe and environmentally sound vehicle recycling practices. Their Partners in the Solution program is a powerful model for other industries and other states to follow."

California auto recyclers dismantle approximately 650,000 out-of-service vehicles per year and recycle about 90% of them. They recycle about 75% of the steel and other parts from each vehicle, which keeps this material out of landfills. If they follow the SCADA requirements for responsible recycling, they can effectively keep mercury and other contaminants from reaching waterways.

Ashley Boren, Executive Director of Sustainable Conservation said, "Without sound auto recycling practices, end-of-life vehicles can be a source of hazardous pollutants such as mercury, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc through stormwater runoff. Fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze are of particular concern because they contain a large amount of these metals. And, the vehicles are usually handled outside, where they can be exposed to rain and stormwater."

California Department of Toxic Substances Control estimates that the end-of-life vehicles shredded annually in California contain a total of 0.75 to 1.5 tons of mercury, which could be released into the environment during the recycling process or later when nonmetallic waste "fluff" is disposed at non-hazardous waste landfills -- if auto recyclers do not handle the materials properly.

SCADA President Manuel Souza, owner of Manuel's Auto Wrecking in Merced, California, confirmed that the Partners in the Solution program motivates auto recyclers to achieve a high level of performance and provides straightforward compliance assistance. "We're doing our part to keep toxics out of landfills and waterways. We remove, store and manifest mercury switches, batteries, tires, fluids and everything else to make sure pollutants are not released from our facilities into the environment."

Kerry Schmitz, Sacramento County Department of Water Resources, said, "The County's efforts to minimize the discharge of pollutants to local creeks and rivers depends on programs like the auto recycling industry's Partners in the Solution. This program teaches business owners about ways to accomplish necessary tasks while minimizing the impact on local waterways."

Auto recyclers remove reusable parts and toxic materials, then ship the cars to scrap processors for shredding. Shredding generates three types of materials: iron and steel, nonferrous metal, and fluff (such as fabric, rubber and glass). The iron and steel are magnetically separated from the other materials and recycled to produce new steel.

Automobiles are the most-recycled product in the world.

  • Each year more than 14 million tons of steel from end-of-life vehicles is recycled, equivalent to nearly 13.5 million cars.
  • Recycling the steel from a single car (about one ton) conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone, and saves enough energy to power about 18 million households for a year. Shredded metal scrap from motor vehicle bodies and components provides the raw material for about 90% of the steel output in the US.
  • The steel found in just six cars, when recycled, is enough to build a brand new house using steel framing.
  • The steel used to make new car bodies is approximately 25% recycled; many internal parts have higher recycled content.
  • Today, more than 80% of scrap tires are pulled from the waste stream and reused in some way. Approximately 1 billion pounds of scrap rubber was used in various products in the U.S. and Canada in 2001.

About State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA)

State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA) is the statewide trade association of licensed dismantlers, with about 200 members throughout the state. SCADA members strongly believe in and support responsible recycling and environmental protection. They ensure the proper handling and disposal of all automotive-related hazardous materials, including gasoline, oil, Freon, antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, batteries and tires. In 2001, SCADA adopted the mandatory Partners in the Solution program to provide recognition that participating facilities meet specified business and licensing, environmental, and safety standards. This proactive, industry-led approach motivates facility operators to achieve a high level of performance, and assists them in complying with a complicated array of business, environmental and safety regulations.

About Sustainable Conservation

Sustainable Conservation partners with business, agriculture and government leaders to find practical ways that the private sector can protect clean air, clean water and healthy ecosystems. The independent nonprofit organization leads powerful collaborations that produce lasting solutions and sustain the vitality of both the economy and the environment. Recent accomplishments include: demonstrating "conservation tillage," which decreases particulate air pollution while reducing farmers' energy and labor costs; establishing a framework for determining the impact of brake pad debris on waterways; and creating a regulatory framework for private landowners to get prompt one-stop approval of sound habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit