Metamorphosis: Recycling Junk Cars

Have you ever driven by a house that had so many junk cars or junk car shells out front you either think that you must have missed the sign for their auto shop or why wouldn’t someone just have those removed? One of the most obvious reasons to get rid of your old junk car is space, the second is probably money. What’s it going to cost to remove all of this junk from my yard? But more often than not, what we should be thinking is the great things that each and every scrap car could and should go towards.

How does recycling junk cars work?

End of life vehicles start the vehicle recycling process by first going to an automotive dismantling facility. First the vehicle is picked through for parts that may be able to be used again in other cars. These parts, when sold to the consumer, are called re-manufactured or recycled parts.

Next non-metal items that are able to be removed from the vehicle, such as: tires, batteries, and the gas tank are removed. All gases, liquids, and coolants are removed and safely disposed of.

Next, the car is crushed and flattened saving space for transfer to an automotive shredder. At one of the 200 nationwide shredders, cars are shredded at a rate of one car every 45 seconds.

In the shredder, the metal from the vehicle is separated into three different bins – one for iron and steel, one for non-ferrous material, and one for non-metallic material.  Iron and steel are separated from the other materials using heavy duty magnets. Any non-metallic material or “fluff” leftover after metallic and non-ferrous materials are taken out is sent to landfills. For each ton of car bodies that enter a shredding facility, approximately 500 pounds of “fluff” is produced.

Want to see vehicle recycling in action?:
Where do the iron and steel from my car go?

First the steel goes to a steel mill, where it is used to make new steel for use in these types of products:

  • Automotive fenders
  • Encasements of refrigerators
  • Packaging (like soup cans)
  • Five-gallon pails
  • 55-gallon drums
  • Structural beams
  • Steel plates
  • Reinforcement bars
S.A. StevensonMetamorphosis: Recycling Junk Cars

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