Auto Recycling Recent Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges
Did you know that the automobile is the single most recycled consumer product in the United States?
People with junk cars take them directly to a scrap auto business or trade them in at an automobile dealership, but eventually, they end up at an auto wrecker for recycling. At the wrecking yard, all the reusable parts of a vehicle, including wheels, windows, trunk lids, hoods, seats, and doors are removed. At the same time, for environmentally responsible recycling, mercury switches are removed, and cars are drained of fluids.
The remaining hulk of the car enters the shredder. Then, it gets ripped into fist-sized chunks of nonferrous metals, steel, and fluffs (non-recyclable plastics, glass, rubber, etc.). The steel and iron are magnetically separated from other contents and recycled. Then, the metal scrap is shipped to steel mills where it is used to produce new steel. Some metal scrap goes to secondary processors (often scrap brokers) as well.
Every year, more than 18 million tons of steel from automobiles are recycled by the steel industry. Approximately, 86 percent of a car’s material content is recycled, reused or used for energy recovery. About 60 percent of a passenger vehicle consists of steel and iron. The steel used to make a brand new car contains at least 25 percent of recycled content. Recycled steel from old car is used to make car shell, hood, trunk, door and quarter panels.