4 Reasons to Recycle Airbags

With the increasing airbag recall expansion, dealerships are turning to sustainable management of defective airbags. An airbag recycling program offers multiple benefits for businesses and the environment alike. Here are the top 4 reasons to recycle airbags at end-of-life.

1: Decreased Liability

Individual dealerships and collision centers face potentially devastating liability issues if recalled airbags are not properly destroyed. Dealerships & collision centers may face hefty fines, lawsuits and a public relations nightmare should an incident occur — causing injury or death — involving a recalled airbag placed in a car via the secondary market. To completely eliminate the risk of sale on the secondary market, all defective airbags should be completely destroyed. Destruction is a key part of the recycling process, but should not be handled by the stores’ employees.

Under the current Federal EPA definition of a “D003” characteristic of hazardous waste, un-deployed Supplemental Restraint Devices (SRS Devices), which include airbags and seatbelt pretensioners, are in fact hazardous wastes when intended for traditional landfill or incineration disposal. Detonation of airbags prior to placing them in the dumpster is then defined as “treatment” of hazardous waste without a permit


Based on this enforcement action, the EPA is now stating:

  • Airbags and other restraint devices that have not been deployed cannot be disposed of in the trash. Trash disposed airbags can be cited as illegal disposal of a reactive hazardous waste.
  • Dealerships or collision centers cannot deploy airbags to make them safe for trash disposal. Deployment of airbags is considered to be treatment of hazardous waste, which legally requires a permit. Hazardous waste permits are impractical for dealerships or collision centers

2: Environmental Responsibility

An airbag recycling program can decrease your dealership’s or collision center’s environmental footprint by diverting waste from landfills. The complete destruction and recycling of recalled airbags is not mutually exclusive. Plastic and metal can be recovered from destroyed airbags, recycled and sustainably used in the creation of new products.

3: Cost-Effective

Recycling, rather than landfilling, defective and end-of-life airbags is a cost-effective way to minimize cost as well as minimize waste. We work with recyclers across the country to secure fair-market pricing for recyclable materials like plastic and metal recovered from destroyed airbags.

4: Ease of Operation

Quest provides a comprehensive, turnkey program to manage the destruction and recycling of deployed and un-deployed airbags that can quickly and easily be rolled out in multiple locations. We work with service providers nationwide to provide recycling and sustainability services at more than 20,000 client locations across North America. Onsite dealership employees simply place airbags the provided container and all Quest to schedule a pick-up when needed, while we work diligently with service providers to manage the hauling, recycling, reporting and billing for you.

How to Recycle Airbags with Quest

  • First, your team will place deployed and non-deployed airbags into the provided shipping containers
  • When the container reaches capacity, on-site employees call Quest to schedule a container pick-up
  • A pre-approved, licensed hazardous waste processor will collect the container and ensure airbags are handled in compliance with federal, state and local regulations
  • Recyclers ensure the complete destruction of airbags
  • Hazardous materials are removed from the destroyed airbags and properly disposed of
  • The remaining airbag components are recycled to form plastic pellets and metal sheets
  • You receive a certificate of destruction, bill of lading and other applicable paperwork — This documentation contributes to reduced liability for your dealership and is required in order to be reimbursed for complying with recall specifications

Recycle airbags to reduce the liability and environmental footprint of your dealership. For more information, contact Quest today.

Feature image credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

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