When the “Cash for Clunkers” program was initiated in 2009, not many thought that it would ultimately hurt the environment. The program's terms basically meant that people could trade in their old gas-guzzler and receive up to $4500 back, which could be used to purchase a newer fuel-efficient vehicle. Sounds good, right? Not so fast. A Jan. 3 Yahoo! report citing experts doesn't seem to think so.
The numerous people that lined up in car dealerships to trade their old car in seemed like it would certainly be a economic boost. However, recent reports indicate that "Cash for Clunkers" hurt the environment more than it helped.
"Cash for Clunkers" is officially named the Car Allowance Rebates System (CARS), and it reportedly produced a massive amount of waste when shredding the cars. The program's main focus was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) says automobiles are almost entirely recyclable, however, the “Cash for Clunkers” cars never made it to recycling facilities. Instead, the cars’ engines were destroyed due to federal mandate in order to prevent car dealers from unlawfully reselling them later.
When shredding vehicles, for each ton of metal produced, approximately 500 pounds of “shredding residue” is also produced, which then makes its way to a landfill. If the cars plastic and metal had been recycled it would have saved about 24 million barrels of oil.
The destruction of all those vehicles not only created unnecessary waste for the environment, it also negatively impacted the economy.
Based on a recent op-ed from TriCities, which was posted by Mike Smith of Ralph Smith Motors, CARS created a shortage of used cars, which essentially drove up car prices and depleted stocks of used-car dealers. Smith says:
"Let me tell you what happens when a community organizer tries his hand at “stimulating” the economy. First, the program destroyed approximately 750,000 working vehicles. They were crushed and sold for scrap metal, primarily to China. This created a severe shortage of affordable, reliable cars for folks like my customers who cannot afford newer, expensive cars. For independent dealers like me, the availability of used cars to resell diminished drastically, while prices skyrocketed."