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Benefits of Recycling Car Bodies

13931668_sEvery year in the U.S., approximately 15 million automobiles reach the end of their usable lives. When the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle, it is considered a “constructive total loss.” At this point, it is better to recycle the vehicle and purchase another.

Fortunately, 75 percent of the material from these end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) is recycled. However, this also means that 25 percent is not recycled, leaving a significant portion of waste behind. Here are some facts on the environmental benefits of recycling of automobiles:

  • Automobiles are the most recycled consumer product. Each year, the steel industry recycles more than 14 million tons of steel from ELVs. Thi is equivalent to nearly 13 million automobiles.
  • When comparing the amount of steel recycled from automobiles each year to the amount of steel used to produce new automobiles, automobiles maintain a recycling rate of nearly 100 percent.
  • By weight, the typical passenger car consists of about 65 percent steel and iron. The steel used in car bodies is made with about 25 percent recycled steel.
  • Recycling steel saves energy and natural resources. The steel industry annually saves enough energy to power about 18 million households for a year.
  • Recycling one ton of steel conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.
  • Vehicles that would otherwise be left on the roadside or abandoned in empty lots can be legally obtained by licensed dismantlers and safely converted into reusable or recycled commodities.
  • Steel is one of the few materials that can be recycled repeatedly without loss of quality or strength. However, care must be taken in the recycling process to avoid contaminating the steel with other metals.
  • Steel is the most recycled material in the world – nearly 70 million tons in the U.S. alone were processed in 2006.
  • More steel is recycled annually than all other materials, including aluminum, glass and paper combined.
  • Because recycling metal uses about 74 percent less energy than making new steel, the recycling of these vehicles saves an estimated 85 million barrels of oil annually that would have been used in the manufacturing of new or replacement parts.
  • Recycled steel reduces the need for new iron ore to be mined, protecting the environment from the side effects of mining.