Car Graveyards and Rusting Boats: Where Do Metal Objects Go to Die?

Car Graveyards and Rusting Boats: Where Do Metal Objects Go to Die?

17th March 2020

Have you ever wondered where old metal objects go once they are no longer needed? The world is becoming filled with more and more products of this type every day, but what happens to the oldest of these objects that need to be recycled or disposed of?

The Indian Town Where Old Boats Are Stripped

Alang in India has achieved fame in recent years for the fact that it is the biggest ship breaking centre on the planet. Around half of the salvaged ships in the world are recycled here in the Gulf of Khambat. Ocean liners, ferries, container ships and other sea-going vessels are left on the beach. Hundreds of manual workers then arrive to take the ships apart and strip out anything that can be taken apart and recycled, from CE marked fabrications to refrigeration equipment and decorations. This place has been featured in documentaries and has generated a degree of controversy due to the working conditions and lack of health facilities nearby. Gadani in Pakistan is another giant ship breaking yard where up to a million tons of steel is salvaged each year.

Huge Amounts of Electronic Waste Goes to Nigeria

It is estimated that 100,000 people in Nigeria work in recycling old electronic waste like computers and domestic appliances. Together, they process around half a million tons of waste a year. In 2019, a huge plan involving the Nigerian government and the UN was announced. This is a $15 million initiative that will reform the recycling industry and make it safer for the people who work in it. Apart from scrap metal like steel, it is said that there is 100 times more gold contained in a ton of old domestic appliances than in the same amount of gold ore.

The Train Cemetery in Bolivia

The tourists who visit the small, remote city of Uyuni in Bolivia tend to do so as a starting point for a tour of the nearby salt plain. This is the biggest and highest salt plain in the world, with a hotel built entirely of salt sitting in it. Yet, just outside of the city is another fascinating spectacle. The train cemetery in Uyuni is where a group of old, rusting trains have been left to rot. This is a symbol of the region’s glory days, when trains were imported from the UK to make it a transport hub. These plans didn’t work out as expected, with the area now impoverished and many locals eking out a living by digging out piles of salt to sell.

Car graveyards around the world

This entry is different from the others we have looked at, as some of the metal objects are new rather than old. The fact is that there are several car graveyards dotted over the planet, though.  Many are vehicles that the manufacturers over-produced and decided to not put on the market. Another example comes from the Volkswagen graveyards in the US, where they put the diesel cars that they had to buy back a couple of years ago.   Perhaps strangest of all, the forest outside of Châtillon in Belgium is famous for being home to many rusting vehicles. The graveyard was said to have been started by American servicemen who hid their cars there during WWII.