By the end of 2017, China's population collectively owned 217 million automobiles, implying an ever-increasing number of scrapped cars. The number of scrapped cars for 2018 is expected to hit 9.07 million. Where are all these old cars going? Less than 30 percent are sent to formal companies for disassembly, with most ending up on the black market and back on the roads following renovation, increasing the incidence of traffic accidents.
According to regulations, once automobiles have traveled for 600,000 km, they should be scrapped. Major parts like engines and steering gear must not be used again and should instead be recycled as waste metal.
Why is the rate of legally scrapped cars so low? If owners get rid of their cars through normal channels, they receive just 200-300 yuan ($31-47) and have to drive the car to the site themselves. This paltry reimbursement barely covers the gas required to drive the vehicles or have them towed to the designated place. However, on the black market, steering gear alone can fetch at least 500 yuan ($79), while a high-quality engine can bring in 50,000 to 60,000 yuan ($7,900-9,400).
Legal car-recycling businesses are mired in economic difficulty, unable to benefit from old auto parts while government subsidies remain insufficient or absent altogether.
It is therefore necessary to raise the remuneration for car owners who take their cars to formal car-recycling agencies, while these companies themselves should also be more generously subsidized. Meanwhile, car owners should be warned against selling their cars on the black market as engines and steering gear have vehicle identification numbers unique to every car, and owners can be traced through them. Car-recycling companies involved in illegal business must be severely punished. All these measures will help to remove the ticking time bomb of renovated cars on China's roads.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Legal Daily on May 4)