The Rise of Automotive Waste

Did you know that there are over 11 million inactive or dormant vehicles out of over 33 million registered vehicles in Malaysia?1  

That figure is even more than the country’s population which stands at 32.6 million, according to a June 2022 article published in the New Straits Times.2 

Since 2019, Road Transport Department Malaysia (JPJ) records show that the number of newly registered vehicles has increased by one million every year. 3

The issue of abandoned vehicles is gaining public attention because it is seen to have the potential to cause environmental pollution if not managed properly. To make matters worse, there is no end-of-life vehicle policy in our country. Therefore, it is not uncommon to own a 20-year-old car in Malaysia. 

So what happens to a car that has passed its road worthiness? How do owners dispose of a pile of aged metal safely and properly?

Malaysians face the issue of abandoned old cars as people just do not know what to do with their old, beaten-up vehicles and how to dispose of them properly. Oftentimes, these vehicles end up being abandoned after being unused for ages in many neighbourhoods. 

In 2019, based on information from JPJ, there were at least 60,000 abandoned vehicles nationwide. Factors that cause this problem are obsolete vehicles, difficulty in obtaining spare parts for repair and vehicle owners who are not knowledgeable about the process of disposing of these vehicles. 4 It is high time for us to find proper disposal methods for these vehicles so that they do not become junk and eyesores. 

Relative to this issue, many parts and components of these automobiles can be salvaged and even recycled for further use – this will address the issue of rising automotive waste that is produced yearly. There are a high number of scrap metal collectors who will remunerate people for metal scraps, once part of the construction of the car. Oftentimes, various components such as batteries, seats and other usable parts will be salvaged for refurbishment. 

The abandoned vehicles often contain wastes such as lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries, electronic components, asbestos brake pads, used engine oil, engine coolant and so on that need to be properly managed to ensure environmental sustainability. All these wastes need to be managed and disposed of properly at facilities licensed by the Department of Environment (DOE). 

In an initiative to help our country overcome this issue, the DOE has recently launched the Authorised Automotive Treatment Facility (AATF) Pilot Project. This project provides a sustainable approach in the disposal of vehicles. 

AATF is a facility that will carry out the disposal of components, especially components that contain scheduled waste from vehicles that have been deregistered by the Ministry of Transport Malaysia. The components will be segregated for reuse, recycling or recovery and final disposal. This facility is licensed by the Department of Environment (DOE) under Section 18, Environmental Quality Act 1974. 5

These efforts are in line with the National Automotive Policy 2020 that with the increase of more vehicle manufacturing and assembly plants in the country in the future, there is application of aspects of green technology to drive low carbon development in the country. 

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