Vehicle Recycling: An Eco-Friendly Alternative

Most of us have heard the kitschy “recycle, reuse, reduce” campaign song from the early 90s, have scrolled Facebook or flipped on the TV to see something about climate change, and probably have even seen the Yipster kid at the local grocer in a Save the World T with recycling insignia on the back—anyone not living under a rock knows it’s a good idea to recycle.

But do we?

The statistics say… sort of.

A national survey conducted in advance of America Recycles Day in 2014 (November 15) “found that half of Americans said they recycle 75 percent or more of their recyclable items. Eight percent said they recycle all recyclables. The survey, conducted by global insights firm Kelton Global, found that nearly two thirds of Americans said they recycle on a ‘regular basis.’”

While these figures sound like good news for the environment, they contrast with the national cycling rate of 34.5 percent in 2012, as measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Each year, for the last 30 years, the EPA has collected and reported information on the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) Americans generate to benchmark the success of existing waste reduction and recycling programs. The 2014 report states that residents produced 258 million short tons of municipal solid waste, with recycled and composted materials representing 34.6 percent of that amount or 89 million tons.

Paper and paperboard account for 25.9% and yard trimmings and food scraps account for another 27%; plastics 13%; metals 9%, rubber, leather and textiles 6%; wood is approximately 6% and glass 4%. Other miscellaneous wastes make up approximately 3.5%. The pie graph below outlines these figures:

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Paper and paperboard account for 25.9% and yard trimmings and food scraps account for another 27%; plastics 13%; metals 9%, rubber, leather and textiles 6%; wood is approximately 6% and glass 4%. Other miscellaneous wastes make up approximately 3.5%. The pie graph below outlines these figures:

So, what exactly is “vehicle recycling,” what can be recycled, and why is the practice beneficial?

Definition: Vehicle Recycling

The dismantling of vehicles for spare parts. At the end of their useful life, vehicles have value as a source of spare parts and this has created a vehicle dismantling industry.

An entire industry exists JUST to RECYCLE cars.

According to the Automobile Recycling Association, each year over 14 million vehicles reach the end of their usable lives in the United States, and it is estimated that 80 percent of these end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) material from ELVs can be recycled, reused, and become something new. SO, why are we throwing these rigs into the Earth instead of putting them back into the market at a lower cost, using fewer resources than initially?

GOOD QUESTION.

According to End of Life Vehicles recovery: Process Description, its Impact and Direction of Research by Muhamad Zameri b. Mat Saman,

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”The composition of a typical vehicle has changed substantially in recent years. For example, ferrous metal [metal containing iron] content has decreased significantly but more plastic materials are incorporated because they are lighter and more fuel efficient. Passenger vehicles are an outstanding example of complex multi component consumer products. The average vehicle is assembled from about 10000 parts of which there are a large number of different materials.”

The table below provides a materials breakdown of the average passenger vehicle:

Material Breakdown AVG WEIGHT (KG) % OF WEIGHT
Ferrous Metal 776.6 68.0
Plastic 102.8 9.0
Non-Ferrous Metals 102.8 9.0
Glass 34.3 3.0
Tires 34.3 3.0
Fluids 22.8 2.0
Rubber 22.8 2.0
Electrical Parts 11.4 1.0
Process polymers 11.4 1.0
Carpets p 11.4 1.0
Battery 11.4 4 1.0
Other 1.4 4 1.0
Total 1142 100

While 20% of a vehicle can’t be recycled, like plastics that are mixed with other substrates, a greater majority can be including:

The Parts are Greater than the Whole

You know the old adage, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Well, not in this case. The parts are invaluable on their own and come become a lot of other products. Read below to see what can be created from all the various spare materials:

Metals: Steel, Aluminum, Lead, Iron

Wheels & Tires

You know the old adage, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Well, not in this case. The parts are invaluable on their own and come become a lot of other products. Read below to see what can be created from all the various spare materials:

Batteries

Batteries offer many components, one of which is lead. This material is often melted down and used in new batteries. The plastics are used for new battery cases, and the electrolytes can be used in a variety of industrial and commercial applications.

Learn more about recycling car batteries at www.recyclingmybattery.com

Vehicle Recycling Benefits

Making new items out of old cars is obviously a perk to recycling, but the resources saved, and the environmental benefits are an even greater reason to recycle your vehicle. Read on to learn all the crazy stats and facts that’ll have you driving your vehicle to the door of a salvage yard today:

Car Recycling is Cost Effective:


The car recycling Industry is the 16th largest in the
United States, contributing $25 billion per year to
the national GDP.

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Every year, the automobile recycling industry in USA
and Canada provides sufficient steel to produce
roughly 13 million new vehicles.


In the U.S., nearly 12 million cars are recycled. This
number makes cars the most recycled item in the
country.

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Every year, the North American automotive
recycling industry saves around 85 million barrels
of oil from getting used in making new or
replacement auto parts.


The gross annual revenue in 1997 in USA was $7.05 billion and in Canada was $1.15 billion. In the same year, auto recyclers in USA and Canada acquired approximately 4.7 million vehicles for recycling. In that year, 6 million car tires and 11 millions of car oil were recycled.

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Across North America, automotive recycling
provides around 40 percent of ferrous (iron
containing) metal for scrap processing industry.


Recycled steel is cheaper as well, since new ore doesn't have to be mined to produce it. All steel produced today has at least 25 percent recycled steel in it, and some products are made entirely from recycled steel. So in addition to the economic and environmental benefits, recycling cars is a vital link in the world's industrial infrastructure.

Environmentally Friendly:

Recycling metal uses about 74 percent less energy than making new steel, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Automotive Recycler’s Association estimates that the industry collects 100.8 million gallons of fuel, 24 million gallons of motor oil, 8 million gallons of coolant, and 45 million gallons of windshield washer fluid annually.

The steel industry is able to save enough energy annually to supply power to more than 17 million households for a year. When one ton of steel is recycled, its estimated 2,500 pounds of iron ore is saved as well as over 1,300 pounds of coal and 119 pounds of limestone. A vehicle salvage business will know how to properly recycle oil and other fluids that could end up in lakes, rivers, storm drains as well as landfills. They can also recycle glass and plastic parts from vehicles. All of this decreases the environmental impact of ELVs and preserves natural resources.

The number of vehicles recycled in the US and Canada alone provides enough steel to build 13 million new vehicles. Not only does recycling end life cars reduce the waste and pollution created by dumping them instead, it eliminates the need for 85 million barrels of oil that would otherwise be used to make new and replacement car parts.

How You Can Recycle!

Car recycling is not the same as daily trash. The average American owns 12 cars in his her/life. So, it’s fairly easy to make several, spanned-out trips to recycle your ELV. Salvage yards, scrap yards, and wrecking yards will even take your car for cash--any Google Search can help you find ones in your area.

Some more encouraging news is that manufacturers, environmentalists, and wrecking yards are canvassing to make the car-buying experience a process where consumers think about the entire lifespan of the vehicle upon buying it, allowing for an eco-friendly and wise exit strategy when it reaches its last leg. RIP.

Hopefully you’ve learned a few new facts regarding car recycling and that consumers won’t trade-in that old Honda for pocket change but trade-up and recycle it.