rate of production of new cars is difficult to assimilate: an
annual output of 48 million means that, somewhere in the world,
one new car appears every second. In eight hours, 40,000 new cars
will have been built; in a day, 100,000. With a growth in the
human population of some 90 million a year, the arrival of two
new babies is accompanied with the arrival of one new car. And
this rate of growth is, we are assured by the transport lobby,
set to continue. Mackenzie and Walsh, in their report Driving
Forces, estimate that the world total of trucks and cars—more
than 500 million—could double to one billion in the next
process involves not just the raw materials such as steel, iron,
rubber, plastics and aluminum, but large amounts of substances
that deplete the ozone layer, are greenhouse gasses, or use huge
quantities of energy.
and Steel Making: needs large amounts of coal and limestone.
A major producer of sulfur diOxide, acids and slag waste.
Aluminum Production: involves substantial soil
degradation in bauxite mining. Smelters release sulfur diOxide
and are substantial energy users.
Zinc and Lead Industries. Considerable waste
problems and a variety of health threats.
Copper Smelting: sulfur diOxide emissions.
Platinum Production: six million tonnes of ore
a year have to be refined for catalytic converters
Emissions From Other Pollutants: sulfuric acid
for batteries; heavy metals and VOCs in paints; mercury in circuits;
CFCs and other greenhouse gases used in foam seats and body parts;
asbestos in brake pads.
average of 27 tons of waste is produced during the manufacturing
of one car.
of old cars and car components—tires, batteries and oil
further increase the environmental impact of the car.
Cars use 10
percent of OECD plastics production, for a whole range of fittings,
from fuel tanks to door handles. Disposal of the large amounts
of PVC, polyurethane, polyprone and high density polythene used
in cars is difficult. Over three-quarters of a million tonnes
of scrap plastic were produced in 1990 just from cars in Europe.
1988, 209.5 million car tires, 42.7 million truck tires
and 19 million road tires were produced in the USA alone. Over
320 million were sold in Japan, France, West Germany and the UK
Of all these tires, only 30 percent are re-treaded, the bulk of
the remainder are dumped.
disposal is very problematic.
the absence of oxygen, tires produce vast quantities of oil, more
than a gallon per tire, accompanied by thick black smoke. Dump
fires are extremely polluting. Car dumps themselves cause local
pollution with high concentrations of lead, cadium and zinc.
average, each dumped vehicle contains six litres of lubricating
oils, three litres of fuel , five litres of cooling liquid and
three litres of sulfuric acid.
million batteries are discarded per year. Their sulfuric
acid contents represent a substantial environmental threat.
Western Europe, Japan and the USA nearly 40 million cars are discarded