How to Dispose of Air Bags?

You can either get a recycling facility to take away the airbags in your vehicle or ask hazardous waste handlers to take care of them.

Typically, intact airbags in cars are sent off to junkyards and car dismantling centers, where they are released as a result of pressure.

But that can be dangerous for those around and the environment.

Construction of Air Bags

Airbags or supplemental restraint systems contain three parts primarily; a casing, a deflator, and a booster material.

On top of that, sodium azide is present in an airbag causing the bag to blow up on impact.

It converts into innocuous nitrogen gas as the casing balloons up when the vehicle it’s in is under attack.

The nitrogen resulting from sodium azide doesn’t harm the human body or the environment.

But the original compound, aka sodium azide, can be tremendously toxic and have adverse side effects on people’s health.

When an airbag remains un-deployed, the harmful compound inside remains reactive, making the entire apparatus dangerous for anyone who comes in contact.

If it explodes while someone at a junkyard is preparing the vehicle for shredding, the person can develop severe rashes on their skin.

Moreover, they will experience excruciating burning on the parts of their body that came in contact with the hazardous compound.

Due to this, intact airbags are categorized as hazardous waste and must be tackled at relevant facilities before the automobile containing them is shipped off to a junkyard.

How to Dispose of Air Bags?

Since airbags are harmful, they should have a national policy regarding their disposal. However, sadly that’s not the case. There is no federal ruling on how to remove and get rid of airbags.

All the states are free to decide how they wish to deal with airbags, which is why there is no one practice for disposing of airbags.

States like Oregon, Wisconsin, and Colorado have mandated all car wreckage and junkyard dealers to remove and recycle airbags that come from damaged vehicles.

As already mentioned, when a car is destroyed beyond repair, it goes for crushing or dismantling so its parts can be dealt with separately while the airbag remains inside.

And that can be dangerous because the machine’s impact can force the casing to tear and release the toxic compound into the atmosphere.

The best approach to safely disposing of airbags is to remove them from the automobile to be reused in other vehicles.

Airbags are not exactly cheap, and installing them requires a significant amount of money. But that cost can be reduced if unused airbags are reused, not necessarily in new cars.

Car mechanics can use an intact airbag to replace a used one in a vehicle that’s been in an accident.

This way, people can save money and effort significantly. Think about it; you end up in a fender bender; thankfully, you are not hurt, nor is someone else but the airbag deployed in the process.

Now according to federal law, you need to replace the used airbag; otherwise, you will have to face the consequences.

In such a scenario, an unused airbag can save you a ton of money and hassle. You can just get it installed in the place of the older one.   

As we have already established, airbags are harmful to the environment. However, their degrading impact can be minimized with proper handling, such as recycling.

Recycling Air Bags: The Sustainable Solution

Recycling is the best solution to tackle used or un-deployed airbags. Doing so doesn’t add to the landfills, keeping the atmosphere safe from harmful materials.

To further understand why recycling airbags is the right choice, here are four compelling reasons.

Eliminating Liability

Dealerships and collision centers that take care of destroyed cars can face serious legal repercussions if an airbag goes off while a worker works with it. And the possibility of that is quite high.

An airbag has gas to blow it up. In an operational vehicle, the supplement restraint device goes off when there is an impact.

But once the car has been in an accident and sustained damage, the airbag may become unstable. This means it might go off without warning, hurting those nearby.

People working at a junkyard or car shredding facility can often be somewhat careless when dealing with airbags and end up injured.

When that happens, the center’s owner has to bear the medical bills and all other fines they may get for not implementing the correct protocol.

Long story short, an airbag can cause significant problems for car dealerships and collision centers.

To avoid any unpleasant accidents, removing airbags is a must before the vehicle goes for further treatment. This way, the chances of injury will be lower; thus, no fines or penalties will be charged.

If a dealership chooses to remove the airbags from a car, it needs to be very careful with the process. Airbag removal is anything but easy.

One needs to have expertise in order to tackle airbags; otherwise, the devices could blow up.

In the case of an airbag explosion during the removal process, the facility will be held liable and have to bear the consequences.

Simply put, recycling airbags is the safest option to deal with the devices. But one must involve the right facility in the process.

If you need to get work done on your car and your airbags have to be disposed of, look up an agency that’s qualified to handle airbag waste.

Reducing Environmental Impact

Landfills keep mounding thanks to the non-biodegradable products used in the world.

These items remain in the environment for hundreds of years, degrading the atmosphere and causing climatic changes. And airbags are indeed among them. 

If they are not recycled and simply dumped in the trash, they might release the toxic compounds inside like sodium azide, which may mix with water and form an even more hazardous amalgam.

 If the mixture of water and sodium azide goes into the ground, it will damage agricultural practices and hamper the growth of plants.

Naturally, when airbags are thrown in the garbage, they end up in landfills.

But if they are recycled to make new products or reused to replace deployed airbags, they will not damage Mother Nature.

In short, recycling airbags will help us reduce our carbon footprint as we will be partaking in sustainable practices and not letting the landfills mound.


Like most car accessories, airbags are pretty expensive. So they are not easy to install whenever you want.

On top of that, the dealerships or garages that work on repairing vehicles have to arrange the restraint devices at high costs.

In simple words, airbags are pricey for everyone involved in putting one in cars. But if people start using airbags responsibly, we can save a considerable amount of money.

Safety of Mechanics

People who deal with damaged cars are not experts in recycling or hazardous waste disposal.

When such individuals come in contact with airbags, they are likely to get hurt due to improper handling.

However, if they get a recycling facility or hazardous waste center involved, they can stay safe while ensuring airbags are disposed of the right way.

As humans, it’s our responsibility to keep other people safe. That means we need to make sure that any of our possessions harm others, which includes disposing of airbags in the safest possible way.

Most people often overlook the dangers of intact airbags, putting themselves and car dealers at risk.

If a person is exposed to the toxic material in an airbag, they can suffer skin problems and go through unimaginable pain.

The best way to avoid such an occurrence is to contact a credible authority to remove airbags from vehicles and recycle them.

How to Choose the Right Service to Dispose of Air Bags?

If you want to find the best recycling service or waste management facility for airbag disposal, you should look at what each contender is offering besides the standard recycling.

A recycling or disposal center will certainly recycle airbags, but does it offer safe shipment as well? That is the key factor to consider when choosing a service.

When you look up players in the market who claim to handle airbag waste, go through their services.

If they provide pick-up for spoiled items (as that is a critical part of the disposal process), then you should consider connecting with them.

Additionally, you must ask the agency you choose if they have a licensed waste processor.

Lastly, inquire about their process, i.e., how do they go about dealing with airbags.

Do they remove recyclables first or throw the entire devices into the recycling plant? That’s just one example of what you can ask a disposal agency. You can have as many queries as you want.

Once you have satisfactory answers, you will have your winner!

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