The Benefits of Recycling Steel in Junk Cars

Recycling junk cars has a huge impact on our environment, economy, and more; an impact that is entirely positive. There are many benefits of junk car recycling, most of which involve steel. Continue reading to learn why it is important to recycle the steel in junk cars, and how you can personally contribute to this wonderful initiative.

Most Vehicles are Mostly Steel

Most vehicles are manufactured with steel because it is a highly durable, strong, and dependable metal. Not only can it protect drivers and passengers, it can be recycled and repurposed over and over again. In fact, most steel is made from existing steel materials, which does wonders to preserve our natural resources, conserve energy, and reduce harmful emissions produced by metal refining factories. According to the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), “recycling a single ton conserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.”

Vehicles, on average, are 60% steel and iron. The shell alone is 25% of the total amount of steel in a car or truck, on average. This includes the quarter panels, trunk, hood, and doors. Additionally, internal parts and metal components are recycled for their steel, such as automotive parts, gaskets, circuit boards, and more.

Steel Recycling

Motorized vehicles are among the most frequently recycled consumer product in the country. Regardless of who owned them or what happened to them, virtually all cars end up in the recycling process. According to the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), more than 14 million tons of steel from cars are recycled each year. This can actually be argued as a 100% recycling rate among vehicles no longer suited for the road!

Junk Car Salvaging Process

The junk car recycling process, although not too complicated, requires a fleet of highly-specialized equipment and technology. Most metal reprocessing centers will start by draining the vehicle of any remaining fluids to stay within environmentally responsible recycling practices. These fluids include transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, radiator fluid, battery fluid, and motor oil. Next, they will begin to dismantle the vehicle of all its reusable parts, like wheels, tires, headlights, doors, windows, fenders, bumpers, trunk lids, stereos, and any operational or repairable auto parts.

After a vehicle is finished with the draining and dismantling process, all that’s left are scattered hulks. This is usually shredded in an industrial metal shredder, which is an enormous and innovative machine that can shred large hulks down to fist-sized pieces in less than 45 seconds. These pieces are a compilation of steel, non-steel metals, and fluff (non-reusable rubbers, plastics, glass, etc.). A large magnetic sorter is used to separate the steel and iron pieces from the rest of the shredding material, which are then shipped all across the country to various metal buyers, reprocessed, and steel mills.

Recycling Worn-Out Parts of a Car

Car parts are recycled not only from end-of-life cars but also during the regular maintenance of cars. When a car reaches its end of life cycle, those parts that are intact are sold ‘as is’ in the market. Many are recycled for different types of applications. On the other hand, when parts are discarded during the maintenance of a car, they cannot be reused. They need to be completely recycled for other applications.

Let us see the various parts of the car that are usually discarded during regular maintenance and what happens to them:

1. Oil Filters:

When an oil filter needs to be discarded, it cannot be just dumped into the garbage. The reason for this is that the oil filter contains oil which contains toxins. If released into the environment, it will contaminate the soil, waterways, underground reservoir and marine life.

The recycling of oil filters entails mechanical crushing of the filter to extract all the remaining oil. This leaves the metallic portion. The metal is sold as scrap and reused.

2. Car Batteries:

Many a time a car may have its various parts functioning perfectly but the battery may be malfunctioning. At such times it becomes necessary to dispose of the battery. Disposal of battery should be done with caution as a car battery contains acids and lead which are harmful to the environment.

An old car battery can be recycled to manufacture a new one. Therefore, many battery vendors offer to exchange old batteries for new ones. The best way to recycle a car battery is to exchange a worn out battery for a new one or a recycled one. Using a recycled battery is beneficial as it is much cheaper than a new battery.

3. Tires:

Once the tires of a car are worn out, they will need to be replaced. Disposal of car tires is a problem. This is because car tires are non- biodegradable and voluminous. Hence, they occupy the precious landfill.

But, fortunately, worn out tires have multiple applications. They can be used for creating artificial turf, fuel, and much more.

4. Glass parts:

If a car is so damaged in a mishap that its windshield is broken, then it is not a wise idea to throw away the glass. This is because glass occupies the precious landfill. Broken glass is recycled to produce jewelry, counter tops, etc.

As is obvious auto parts are recycled to produce a variety of products. In order to become a part of the process of recycling, we should not be callous about the disposal of car parts.