Automotive Recycling


Automotive recycling is 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. The industry has various names for its business outlets including wrecking yard, auto dismantling yard, car spare parts supplier, and recently, auto or vehicle recycling. Vehicle recycling has always occurred to some degree but in recent years manufacturers have become involved in the process. A car crusher is often used to reduce the size of the scrapped vehicle for transportation to a steel mill.

Approximately 12-15 million vehicles reach the end of their use each year in just the United States alone. These automobiles, although out of commission, can still have a purpose by giving back the metal that is contained in them. The vehicles are shredded and the metal content is recovered for recycling, while the rest is put into a landfill. The shredder residue of the vehicles that is not recovered for metal contains many other recyclable materials including 30% of it as polymers, and 5-10% of it as residual metals. Modern vehicle recycling attempts to be as cost-effective as possible in recycling those residual materials. Currently, 75% of the materials are able to be recycled. As the most recycled consumer product, end-of-life vehicles provide the steel industry with more than 14 million tons of steel.

So, how to recycle the vehicle /automotive parts?

The process of recycling a vehicle is extremely complicated as there are many parts to be recycled and many hazardous materials to remove. Briefly, the process begins with incoming vehicles being inventoried for parts. Then, recyclers start the engine in order to inspect for leaks. After inventory, fluids are drained and removed. After the fluids are removed, the final remaining hazardous materials such as battery, mercury, and sodium azide (the propellant used in air bags) are removed. After all of the parts and products inside are removed, the remaining shell of the vehicle is crushed and recycled.

What are the benefits from recycling automotive parts?

Recycling steel saves energy and natural resources. The steel industry saves enough energy to power about 18 million households for a year, on a yearly basis. Recycling metal also uses about 74 percent less energy than making metal. Thus, recyclers of end-of-life vehicles save an estimated 85 million barrels of oil annually that would have been used in the manufacturing of other parts. Likewise, recycling a car keeps 11 million tons of steel and 800,000 non-ferrous metals out of landfills and back in consumer use. Before the 2003 model year, some vehicles that were manufactured were found to contain mercury auto switches, historically used in convenience lighting and antilock braking systems. Recyclers remove and recycle this mercury before the vehicles are shredded to prevent it from escaping into the environment. In 2007, over 2100 pounds of mercury were collected by 6265 recyclers.

Recycle around the world?

Worldwide, recycling materials and components from cars is a growing business. Approximately 65 percent of a car is steel, although it is composed of other recyclable materials including rubber, textiles, glass and metals such as copper and aluminium. Modern car bodies, are typically composed of 25 percent recycled steel. Many of the internal steel parts are also manufactured from recycled steel. It makes economic and environmental sense to recycle these materials. Furthermore, using recycled steel increases the sustainability of car manufacture, as less new steel is used.

One economic reason for recycling, is the price of scrap steel, which has increased dramatically in recent years, making it a more profitable business. A sound environmental reason is that recycling steel requires 70 percent less energy compared to producing new steel from iron ore.

It has been estimated that 14 million ton of steel from cars is scrapped each year. This recycling has lead to a cheaper steel supply for the car manufacturing industry, compared to the cost of newly processed steel. Cheaper steel means a cheaper, more cost effective end product. The car industry has taken full advantage of the recycling potential of the steel in their cars. Often, steel recycled from scrapped cars ends up in new cars, rolling off the production line.

Recycling steel saves large quantities of energy and other natural resources. Recycling one ton of steel conserves 1134 kilograms of iron ore, 635 kilograms of coal and 54 kilograms of limestone.

Resources :

Wikipedia     Technologystudent


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