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What Happens to Car Bodies

14631269_sAutomotive recycling is the 16th largest industry in the U.S., estimated to be a $25 billion per year industry. There are approximately 7,000 vehicle recycling operations around the country, recycling about 26 automobiles every minute.

  • Recycling cars and trucks provides enough steel to produce almost 13 million new automobiles each year.
  • The metal removed is reused for such things as a new vehicle’s chassis and engine, which serves to “close the loop” in steel recycling.
  • In 2006, enough steel from old cars was recycled to produce 48 million steel utility poles, one third of the utility poles in the U.S.
  • The steel found in just six cars, when recycled, is enough to build a new house using steel framing.
  • Each year, more than 62 percent of the steel produced domestically is recycled. The basic oxygen furnace (BOF) process uses 25 to 35 percent old steel to make new, ductile steel sheets that can be stretched and formed in to articles like new body panels.
  • The electric arc furnace (EAF) process uses more than 80 percent old steel to make new steel for structural steel uses like concrete reinforcement.
  • Automobile recycling is almost as old as the car itself. Today, waste from auto recycling such as auto shredder fluff (automobile shredder residue) and plastics pose the biggest challenge in automotive recycling efforts. With cars are built containing more plastic than metal, and car makers around the world are working diligently to find ways to push automobile recycling rates beyond 85 percent.