Airbag Inflator Recall


“Takata recalls nearly 70 million airbags from 19 automobile brands including Subaru, Ford, GM, and Toyota.” The global airbag inflator recall’s history began in May 2016. It is estimated that tens of millions of vehicles made by 19 different automakers were recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both. According to the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), “Takata (a major global airbag manufacturer) used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags.” This chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high heat and humidity. It can burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister and hurling shrapnel. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or killing car occupants.

Worldwide History of Airbag Inflator Recall

This specific major global airbag manufacturer began producing airbags in 1988, and the company had almost 20 percent of the market in 2014. The airbag inflator recall crusade started when several automakers received recall of vehicles due to airbags made by this major global manufacturer). The recall is ongoing. See the complete timeline here!

Vehicles Recalled by NHTSA

Because the airbags posed a potential risk of exploding when exposed to high heat, this manufacturer recalled tens of millions of front airbag inflators sold to 19 different automakers. The automakers include Audi, BMW, Honda, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Isuzu Oasis, and Volkswagen, etc. See the complete list of vehicles recalled with their models here!

EPA Interim Final Rule for Safe Disposal of Recalled Airbags (November 2018)

After 19 automakers recalled or agreed to recall over 70 million airbags in the US and about 100 million worldwide made by this major manufacturer, it was necessary to dispose of these airbags carefully for safety, environmental, and regulatory purposes. The safe disposal of airbags is necessary since they include ammonium nitrate that can explode due to high heat and humidity. These chemical components also pose a potential risk to the environment. In response to the urgent public health issue posed by these recalled airbag inflators installed in vehicles, the U.S. EPA announced an interim final rule. This rule facilitated the prompt collection of defective airbag inflators for safe and environmentally sound disposal. The entities that retrieved the airbag waste (including automobile dealerships, automotive salvage and scrap yards, independent repair facilities, and collision centers) are known as “airbag waste handlers.” If certain conditions are met, EPA is exempting accumulation and transport of this airbag waste from RCRA hazardous waste requirements (which would normally apply). However, once extracted from the vehicle and transported, this waste must be transported to a RCRA-permitted facility for proper disposal. Universal waste facilities are not allowed to accept the airbags.

Repercussions of this 2018 interim rule?

In 2018, this global airbag manufacturer underwent a restructuring due to bankruptcy in the U.S., and the U.S. DOT amended its Preservation Order regarding returned inflators. Under the amended order, vehicle manufacturers are no longer required to send recalled inflators to the manufacturer’s warehouses for long-term storage, but may now send them directly for disposal. With this critical interim final rule, EPA is further facilitating airbag management away from long-term storage and to final disposal

CARMA Project to recall Potentially Defective Airbags still in cars on the road

According to the NHTSA, “More than 12 million potentially defective Takata airbags across 19 manufacturers are still in use in 2019.”  Despite extensive efforts by manufacturers, such as recall letters, public service announcements, and dealer interventions, consumers were not responding to fix these potentially life-threatening airbags. To address this situation, a technology company called CARMA Project launched a reward program in 2019. The program was designed to get vehicle owners to replace their defective airbags, and each vehicle owner who takes action to replace the bags will get an Amazon gift card worth $50 as a reward. The company re-announced the reward program during the COVID-19 pandemic to reach out and help people who were riding vehicles with defected airbags during the difficult times. Moreover, this program helped dealer service centers generate business during the COVID pandemic.

CWE for the destruction of recalled airbag inflators

As an RCRA Part B permitted facility since 1995, CWE offers an innovative, environmentally friendly solution to safely dispose of inflators and help dealers avoid long-term storage. Our proprietary airbag disposal system is the only completely green, environmentally friendly choice. This process maximizes safety and results in the recycling or re-use of nearly 100% of the residuals produced:
  • The safely extracted ammonium nitrate is offered to the fertilizer industry
  • The metal is sold to steel mills for use in appliances, auto parts, and other devices
  • The cardboard shipping containers in which the airbags arrive are recycled
We are permitted to process 17 Million airbags/year. We can handle orders of any size (small to large) as we have ample capacity. We are transparent with our customers throughout the process – from paperwork to shipping to holding on-site (if needed) to destruction. We have a nationwide transportation network, making it easier for us to collect these units from anywhere and bring them to our facility smoothly. For more information, please visit, call 937-268- 6501 or email

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