Doing our Part for the Environment

Auto and truck recycling is a “Green” business.  LKQ has developed a sophisticated system in harvesting OE parts from salvage vehicles that are reusable and in good working condition.  Approximately 82% of each salvage vehicle by weight is recycled. All reusable parts are entered into a computer database, stored systematically, and then offered to customers at a low-cost, environmentally friendly repair option.  The remainder of each vehicle, including scrap metals, batteries, and fluids, is sold to recycling organizations.

LKQ works with customers, recyclers and auto manufacturers to find new ways to reuse these materials for ensuring a greener environment.

+ LKQ Corporate Environmental Policy

LKQ Corporation is devoted to helping make a better and cleaner environment for the entire planet through its companywide "Green" initiative. We pride ourselves as being the leaders in the vehicle recycling industry in minimizing the impact of activities by committing to:

  • Meet or exceed all environmental regulatory requirements that apply to LKQ’s activities
  • Reduce and – where possible – eliminate waste by evaluating all operations and following the waste hierarchy of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
  • Minimize the release of harmful substances into the air, water, the earth or its inhabitants through the selection and use of appropriate production materials and equipment, and maintenance of our motor vehicle fleet
  • Actively promote recycling both within LKQ and among our customers and suppliers
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental footprint of LKQ
  • Promote a product range that minimizes the environmental impact of production and distribution
  • Raise employee awareness of environmental issues and encourage their enthusiastic support of LKQ’s environmental initiatives
  • Regularly evaluate the company’s overall corporate environmental performance

+ Vehicle Recycling and Remanufacturing

There are benefits to recycling and remanufacturing vehicles. Not only does recycling and remanufacturing keep useful materials out of landfills, the process requires fewer natural and non-renewable resources, produces less greenhouse gas emissions, and uses less energy. For these reasons, LKQ understands the importance of recycling or reusing working parts of any vehicle that is received to process. We work hard to dismantle as much of the vehicle as possible from wheels and bumpers to engines, doors, and headlamps.

Recycling Process

  • Fluids such as gasoline, oil, and coolants are removed and used in our operations or sold to fluid recyclers.
  • Batteries not fit for reuse are sent to a battery recycler
  • Glass, such as windshields, is removed, inventoried, and sold for reuse in repair shops and door glass is sold with doors for reuse
  • Seats from late-model vehicles may be removed and inventoried for resale to customers
  • Metal parts that are too old or too damaged to be reused or remanufactured are collected and recycled.
  • Plastic bumpers that are too damaged to be repaired are shredded and recycled by plastics recyclers. Recycled plastics require 67% less energy than the use of raw materials.
  • Aluminum wheels that do not meet our standards for refurbishment are smelted and sold to secondary aluminum processors.

Environmental Impact
In 2011, we were able to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by over 1 million metric tons through our recycling and remanufacturing efforts – that’s equal to the annual GHG emissions of a city with over 92,000 people! Overall, we recycled or reused over 18 million pounds of automotive batteries, and were able to remanufactured over 1.2 million auto parts. We are also proud to have reused, recycled, or recovered for energy over 2.2 million tires.

+ Researching Innovative Ways to Reuse Auto Materials

As part of our devotion to a greener future, LKQ is continually looking for innovative ways to reuse or recycle old  materials. Currently, it is estimated that automotive recycling is able to successfully divert on average 82% of a used vehicle, by weight, from the landfill. To improve this percentage, LKQ engages in continual research with material suppliers, recycling companies, trade associations, and other experts in the industry.

Current projects include:

Seat Foam Recycling
Unfortunately, automotive seats and interior foam are sent to landfills.  However, LKQ is part of a pilot program that is evaluating recycling opportunity once the polyurethan foam is removed. There is evidence provided by emerging technology  that indicates recycling potential with the foam when it is chemically treated. The broken down product may be reused to manufacture new products. Testing is being done to verify its potential use.

Fluid Removal
In cooperation with the Automobile Recyclers Association (ARA), LKQ is participating in a study to collect information that can help improve vehicle design for enhanced fluid collection. Though every effort is made to evacuate all fluids from a vehicle (gasoline, oil, coolants, etc.), it is nearly impossible to retrieve every last drop. To understand the design problems, LKQ collects data on the amount of fluid left behind in system reservoirs after vehicles are processed.

Nylon Airbag Recycling
Undeployed airbags may be removed from vehicles and safely used in automotive repairs; however deployed nylon airbags cannot be used again. In an attempt to prevent these materials from being sent to landfills, LKQ and a partner company are investigating economical ways to recycle the used nylon airbag material.

Hybrid and Electrical Batteries and Composites
Hybring and electrical batteries are emerging trends that most auto recyclers are not equipped to handle. Though hybrid batteries make up a small percentage of the total cars manufactured and the new composite materials are currently in limited use, both are expected to increase in the future. LKQ is collaborating with auto manufacturers to create and improve methods of recycling hybrid batteries and composites, while developing the necessary infrastructure for collection, transport and processing of these materials.

+   Encouraging Green Practices in the Auto Parts Industry

LKQ works closely with the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), an international association of car recyclers, to improve the industry’s management of environmentally sensitive materials taken from used vehicles.

Best Management Practices
LKQ belongs to an ARA technical committee that develops environmental practices to be used in vehicle recycling companies, both inside and outside the ARA. These “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) include: environmentally conscious standards for fluid collection, storage, and management; housekeeping practices; parts storage; hazardous material storage and management; storm water management; and spill prevention. BMPs are designed to regulate common pollution sources and to help create a cleaner and safer business environment.

Environmental Promotions
Through “Green” themed promotions, LKQ encourages customers to participate in environmentally friendly projects such as partnering with Arbor Day Foundation. Since 2010, we have planted more than 20,000 trees. LKQ plans to follow this project’s success with promotions centered around Earth Day and other promotions in the future.

+ Energy Management

Saving energy is LKQ's top priority. It is our goal to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs by consitently evaluating our facility operations.

Most LKQ-branded facilitues have been converted to be more energy efficient by incorporating the latest energy-saving technologies.  As we grow, new facilities are built to  to high energy-efficiency standards.

+ Certification and Standards

The Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) Program
Sponsored by the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), the CAR program certifies that participating recycling facilities meet  certain criteria such as business, environmental, licensing, and regulatory standards. Participating in the CAR program leverages LKQ Corporation as a professional recycling organization who is committed to meeting the highest performance standards set by the automotive industry. A licensed environmental professional audits an LKQ salvage yard every other year to verify that it continues to comply with CAR standards.