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Steel: Driving Auto Recycling Success

April 4, 2011

RECYCLING SCRAPPED AUTOMOBILES

Recycling Steel and Iron Used In Automobiles

Steel’s importance in automobiles
We rely on automobiles to transport us from place to place. We also rely on automobiles to keep us safe. Fortunately auto manufacturers depend on steel to protect their customers. In addition to its strength, durability and dependability, steel is also recyclable and contains recycled steel.

Nationwide recycling efforts
Automobiles are the most recycled consumer product. Each year, the steel industry recycles more than 14 million tons of steel from end-of-life vehicles. This is equivalent to nearly 14 million automobiles. When comparing the amount of steel recycled from automobiles each year to the amount of steel used to produce new automobiles that same year, automobiles maintain a recycling rate of nearly 100 percent.

Recycled content of automobiles
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. Many internal steel and iron parts are made using even higher percentages of recycled steel. All steel products contain recycled steel because steel scrap is a necessary ingredient in the production of new steel. Steel scrap is derived not only from automobiles but also from steel cans, appliances and construction material.

The basics of recycling automobiles
Old cars are typically hauled to an automobile dismantler, where reusable parts are removed. After removing the reusable parts and other items like batteries, tires and fluids, the hulks are usually shipped to ferrous scrap processors where they are weighed for payment and unloaded.

At a scrap yard, the automobiles enter the shredder. The shredding process, which handles one car every 45 seconds, generates three streams: iron and steel; nonferrous metal; and fluff (fabric, rubber, glass, etc.). The iron and steel are magnetically separated from the other materials and recycled. The iron and steel is then shipped to end markets or steel mills where it is recycled to produce new steel.

Environmental Benefits
Recycling steel saves energy and natural resources. The steel industry annually saves the equivalent energy to power about 18 million households for a year. Recycling one ton of steel conserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.

Read More

2009 Automotive Recycling Rate

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