How are cars recycled?

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The 16th largest industry in America is auto recycling, with $25 billion annually to the country’s GDP. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers estimates that 95% of U.S. vehicles are recycled each year. This is a great opportunity, as approximately 12 million vehicles reach the end of their useful life each year.

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Which parts are used and how?

Nearly all parts of a car, or any other automobile, can be salvaged with a recycling rate higher than 90%.

Tires, windshield glass, batteries and steel are the most commonly recycled parts of a car.

There are approximately 220 million tires that are recycled each year in the United States. This is a 80% recycling rate. To make new roads, recycled tires are used as pavement bases. You can use the recycled glass from your autos to make tile flooring, glass beads and porcelain, as well as countertops and jewelry.

Reusing a ton of glass can help save about 10 gallons oil. This oil is used in the manufacture of new glass. To make new auto batteries, they can be recycled. Many products can be made from steel and iron salvaged from junk cars.

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How is it done?

The owner may decide to sell the car when it has reached the end of its useful life. The car goes through four steps once it reaches a junkyard or recycling center.

Detail inspection: The recycling facility inspects the vehicle to determine if it is worth repairing or recycling. If repairs are not profitable, the recycling facility will begin dismantling and recycling. A junk yard houses around 90% of cars that are being dismantled and recycled, rather than repaired.

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Dismantling and draining fluids: Different fluids are drained at the recycling facility, including oil, gas and antifreeze. Operators separate hazardous liquids from those that are safe to dispose of. Oil and gas are filtered and reused.

Recycled auto parts can be used to repair other cars, while others can be used to make new parts. These parts may be sold by the recycling facility through a used-parts sales component or directly to local repair shops.

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Crushing and shredding. After all recyclable parts (except iron and steel) have been sorted and stored or sold off, the car body is left. This includes various metals and is then crushed into a flat chunk of metal. It would roughly be the same size as a small microwave oven if the chunk was pressed into a round cube.

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