Cars as far as the eye can see, but also buses, tractors, trucks, motorhomes and even combine harvesters. He could imagine himself at a car manufacturer or dealership. But on closer inspection, these vehicles are sometimes a bit, even downright stamped. Even if others don’t have a scratch. These can be refurbished with used parts and put back up for sale. This is sometimes the case for this ultra-modern recycling company located in Gaillac in the Tarn.
Far from the image of traditional car scrap yards, the Surplus Recycling group has decided to develop an authentic industrial complex where the smell of grease has almost disappeared. Here, on an area of 30 hectares, the 24,000 vehicles at the end of their useful life purchased from insurance companies or recovered from individuals are treated each year. Often on the chain. Where it takes two hours for a mechanic to go out and dissect a powertrain, in these shops it will take less than half an hour. “We have automated to the maximum to be as efficient as possible,” explains Laurent Hérail, founding president of the group that has just inaugurated the expansion of its site, capable of managing 35,000 cars a year.
This self-taught man understood long before the raw material crisis the interest of recovering dashboards, oils but also electrical components to “reuse them instead of throwing them away”. “Our core business is spare parts. We recover them to give them a second life, we certify them and sell them to individuals but also to professionals. Everything that is not reconditioned goes to crushers, that is, about 1,000 tons per month. This means that we have a recycling rate of 95% of the weight of the vehicle, which is important when we compare it, for example, with household appliances, which is far from that result”, assures this boss who today employs 183 people. .
A response to supply difficulties
On average, in each car, about twenty parts will make up the second-hand circuit and will be resold on an online site to individuals and professionals. They will be chosen because they are in good condition, or because they satisfy the demand.
In the motorcycle market, which has many fans, between 30 and 35 spare parts will be recovered. “But we are far from the Nordic countries, Italy or Spain where it is culture and where 40 or 50 parts of a vehicle are reused. There, second-hand spare parts represent 20% of the spare parts market, in the United States it is 25%, while in France it is only 4%”, laments Benjamin Hérail, who ensures the general management of the group.
However, since 2017, mechanics can offer their customers the choice between new or used parts. If for several years buyers have been hesitant to choose second-hand, supply difficulties, in particular for electronic components, the “green” trend, but also the price, between 50 and 70% cheaper, they could change it.
When we know that more than 1.4 million so-called end-of-life vehicles are disposed of every year, this opens up prospects for recyclers. In Gaillac, far from limiting itself to spare parts, the company now reconditions 2,400 cars put back on sale every year with about 30% of reused parts. And a new subsidiary is being created to determine how electric vehicle batteries can be reused in the future. Instead of being thrown away and polluted.
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