Why communities need to care about scrapyards

Recently, various security and health agencies raided illegal scrapyards in parts of Johannesburg. As Souther Courier reports: “Eight cars were impounded, five panel beating workshops closed down, 10 people fined amounts of up to R1 500 and several others issued with verbal and written warnings.” This was an enormous raid, involving many groups, from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to the City’s Environmental Health Department.

Many don’t realise the importance of clamping down on illegal scrapyards. Within these spaces, there is no oversight as to what enters and is processed in the yard. Without having to report and adhere to any proper rules or guidelines, such places can easily lead to health violations and toxic waste. Whether it’s a rodent infestation or a collection of metals dangerous to the environment, the surrounding communities are the ones that suffer.

This is why proper scrapyards are important. By having oversight from proper authorities, vehicles can be properly disposed of. Caring about vehicles isn’t just about focusing on how well they travel while we use them. We also need to care about how we’ll get rid of them. After all, what happens to vehicles after they’re used will have repercussions on how we make future vehicles. The materials used has the possibility of being reused, instead of having to dig into the Earth to produce yet more material. In other words, all this matters because we can recycle.

Instead of being places where illegal and dangerous activity takes place, scrapyards can be places where recycling and green initiatives can take place. Though we don’t often associate scrapyards or the vehicle industry with green initiatives, there’s no reason we should not. After all, in scrapyards metal can be recycled. In America alone, more than 150 million metric tons of scrap metals are recycled every single year. This means a greater relief on mining demands, using less resources not only in terms of fewer raw materials but the cost in acquiring them, too.

This is a benefit to everyone, especially the motor industry. This allows us to create more vehicles and helps portray the industry as one helping, not harming, the environment.

The implications are far-reaching. This is why raids on illegal scrapyards, like the one in Johannesburg, are worth celebrating. We should want places encouraging eco-friendly activity, not ones sidestepping the law. Otherwise, this poses a danger to the community, inviting unwanted criminal activity, pollution and dangerous waste that harms everyone.