Auto Recycling: A Model for All E-Scrap

July 8, 2013

Cars Ready for Recycling

Cars ready to be shredded and recycled (photo by dave_7 | Flickr.com)

by Amber Zhai

Every year, approximately 12 to 15 million vehicles reach the end of their useful life cycles. Fortunately, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, about 95 percent of those retired vehicles are recycled—and the auto recycling process is surprisingly efficient.

The Process

Upon arrival at an auto wrecker or junkyard, a vehicle will first be inspected for viable parts to be sold. Once stripped of valuable parts, the rest of the vehicle will enter the recycling process. First, all toxic substances must be removed from the car, so fluids like antifreeze, oil, gas, and Freon from the AC have to be drained, and the battery (which contains lead and battery acid) has to be taken out and recycled separately. The tires are then removed, and a machine is used to crush the remaining frame and interior for easier transport.

The crushed cars are then sent to shredding plants by the dozen, where they are sent through a huge shredder. The metal remains are separated into ferrous and non-ferrous metals and auto shredder residue (ASR), which includes materials like plastic, fabric, wood, and rubber. While the metal pieces are melted down into new metal to be used for manufacturing new cars and other products, companies have had to be more innovative in coming up with ways to use the less valuable ASR so they don’t end up in landfills.

For example, tires are often used for playground and highway construction, and windshields can be recycled into fiberglass insulation, concrete, and even products like lamps and countertops.

Setting the Bar for Electronic Scrap Recycling

In the end, 90 to 93 percent of a vehicle is generally recycled, serving as a model for all other e-scrap recycling. While e-scrap recycling participation has jumped to 72 percent in 2013, according to Resource Recycling, advances in recycling and upcycling e-waste will still have to make significant leaps in order to catch up with the rapid pace of consumption of electronic devices.

You can start helping the environment today by selling your electronic scrap to CJ Environmental. We’ll recycle everything for you, and you’ll get cash in return. Go to www.CJEnvironmental.com for more information.

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