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Auto Parts City sets standard in auto recycling

Friday, June 11, 2010
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green

Maybe you recycle your paper and plastic, but what about your car?

A north suburban company is hoping you'll consider a "green" alternative when your vehicle comes to the end of the road.

Auto parts city was once considered a menace in the community. But after greening up its act, it's now earning top environmental awards -- including Green Business of the Year from the Green Business League.

It may look like a junkyard, but brothers Jay and Larry Brosten hope to change your mind.

"We've spent too many years trying to improve our image and we've spent millions of dollars setting this facility up and trying to do the right thing," said Larry Brosten. "But it's always had the stigma of the 'j-word'."

The three-generation old Auto Parts City in Gurnee just got an $8 million make-over. The family's goal is to set the green standard in auto recycling.

"The automobile is probably the most recycled item that's mass produced. We used to have a saying on our trucks: the original recyclers," said Jay Brosten.

When vehicles arrive here, they are first cleaned out. Any usable items left inside, like these car seats, are donated to the YWCA.

Then, the car is drained of all fluids and recyclable parts. Batteries and tires are removed for resale or recycling. Lights that contain potentially harmful mercury are removed for safe disposal. Catalytic converters, which contain platinum, are dismantled. Gas is drained and re-used in the company's own trucks. While oil is processed through a special furnace called "Cleanburn." it uses the waste oil to heat three of the company's five buildings.

"The system we are incorporating inside the fluid evacuation system is from Europe. In Europe, they're required to recycle the vehicle by the year 2018 to be 98% recyclable. Here there's no guidelines or standards," said Jay Brosten, co-owner, Auto Parts City.

Other liquids, like windshield wiper fluid, are filtered, re-bottled and re-sold in their retail store.

"The reason for that is the environment. When the cars are out on our u-pull-it facility, there's no gas or fluid that can hit the ground," Larry Brosten. After cars have been processed, customers can stroll the grounds and pull off working parts. When all usable parts have been salvaged, the frames are crushed. The flattened metal is then shipped to a steel recycler -- where it can be readied for re-incarnated into another product.

"We try to minimize the amount of material going into a landfill as much as we can," said Jay Brosten.

The guys at Auto Parts City say they hope others will follow their lead and help make their entire industry more eco-friendly. Check out these links: apcity.com and 21stcenturyautorecycling.com.

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