What happens to that old truck, minivan, sedan, or SUV when it finally dies? Your old car may end up as a bridge in China, a skyscraper in Turkey, or the goalposts at the local high school. The responsible recycling of end-of-life vehicles helps the environment, cleans up the streets, and produces recycled materials used throughout
the world. Every year in the U.S., around 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 (from the Steel Recycling Institute):
- 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.
Car Donation Wizard maintains its environmental commitment by helping vehicle donors nationwide recycle their vehicles and help reduce their environmental footprint.