First of all, plenty of Americans recognize (and have probably repeated) the mantra. I mean common “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. The one to promote recycling household goods. Plus many more are probably active recyclers. Those who cringe at the thought of throwing plastic cups into landfills. Yet, the things that we think of as recyclable. That’s such as cardboard and glass bottles. For these are the things often excluded as one of the greatest pollutants in the United States: cars.

The first cars were manufactured in the early 20th century. Then since their presence in the United States, cars have grown rapidly. 

It is estimated that the average American today is likely to own around 12 cars throughout his or her lifetime. That makes for an average of 12 cars that are manufactured. In addition to driven and eventually dumped. That’s moreover by every single person in the United States. Not only is it costly to manufacture and purchase these 12 cars, but it also adds on to the dangerous quantities of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. 

Cars have become a significant source of waste.

Throughout the past 20 years, there has been a massive amount of research. All dedicated to managing the economic and environmental costs associated with cars. Perhaps one of the most important developments in these past two decades is the growth of the car recycling industry.

For I once wrote:

I was also looking through old stories that I had written. I mean for other sites and realized that my old story about plug-in hybrid electric cars. For The Daily Green back when!

PHEVs need to be the standard for hybrids.

We can make electric cars out of the cash for clunkers. Conversions can be the cheapest and greenest way. Look, I’m saying get rid of the engine, use the body, get it tricked out, use it around town. No gas, no oil. From my book Build Your Own Electric Vehicle folks!

This talk about coal and the like. Look, if you take a clunker and you make it electric, gram for gram of pollution, electric is by far the choice just based on the numbers alone.

If you make it more a renewable grid (which the current climate is moving towards in Copenhagen and the Obama administration) we are even cleaner per car. Anyone who tells you different is definitely selling you a bag of goods.

Car recycling

What is car recycling?

Car recycling is exactly what it sounds like: recycling used automobiles. The sheer number of cars that can be recycled is astounding; about 75% of automotive parts from the 10-15 million cars that die each year can be profitably recycled. The main goal of car recycling is to salvage as many of these parts as possible to reuse and sell at affordable rates.

Car recycling is also a huge industry. In addition, the process is generally pretty simple. Simple for folks looking to ditch their old, raggedy engines.

I’ve even written too:

Wouldn’t you want to go 200 miles per gallon?

What is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle? Why should I take a hybrid electric car and convert it. Especially to a plug-in hybrid?

The best way I can put it is to say that a plug-in hybrid is cleaner. Especially more more energy-efficient than a hybrid electric car. A plug-in hybrid can be a gas car with electric batteries. A range that have a range of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70 miles. Then once done all electric it can be a hybrid electric car. One that has a purely zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) range of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70 miles.


For car-scrapping companies will quote and purchase old cars. That’s from customers based on year, make, model, and condition. From here, each car is drained of all fluids (e.g. oil, antifreeze).   Then they are inspected in a recycling facility to find parts. Parts that moreover may be sold and/or recycled.

Once the car is dismantled, and the valuable parts/materials are removed to be reused and resold. For the remaining car body is then crushed and shredded into scrap metal. This scrap metal is typically sent to auto manufacturers to build new cars.

There is little limit to what cannot be recycled from a vehicle; about 80% of the materials in our cars are perfectly recyclable.This includes things like airbags, tailgates, tires, and batteries. Even some of the metals found in car bodies. For example and such as steel, aluminum, and iron.

I mean that can be melted down and reused. Reusing these materials allows for cheaper, more sustainable production of everything from bicycles and artwork to metal roofing.

Economic benefits of car recycling

Car recycling has become a substantial part of the American economy. According to the Automotive Recyclers Association,it is the 16th largest industry in the United States and earns an estimated $32 billion every year. The job market is massive for this industry; it employs around 140,000 Americans.

Recycling also saves money at every step of the car manufacturing process. 

The Washington State Department of Ecology points out that American automobile recycling industries provide enough steel to build 13 million new vehicles every single year. This makes cars the most commonly recycled object in the nation, saving both auto manufacturers and buyers substantial amounts of money by selling and repurposing old vehicles.

Environmental benefits of car recycling

The beauty of car recycling is that it offers a cheap way for the transportation industry to lower its impact on the environment. When I contacted SellMax to learn more about the environmental benefits of car recycling, they pointed out that recycling scrap metal uses 74% less energy than producing new steel, thereby saving enough energy to power 17 million houses every year. Car recycling also conserves around 500 pounds of iron ore and 1,300 pounds of coal every year. This saves massive amounts of time and energy that would otherwise go into mining these metals, a process that often contaminates local soil and water.

Combat global warming

Car recycling is also a great way to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, they break down the ozone layer that protects humans and animals from the sun’s UV rays. As a result, the Earth heats at a rapid rate that is often dangerous for many humans and animals. Recycling is a great way to prevent the substantial emissions that come from producing new cars; statistics from the Washington State Department of Ecology state that car recycling saves over 30 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the recycling industry can actively combat global warming.

Keep our water clean

Car recycling helps keep our water clean. When oil leaks into our water, it can be deadly for aquatic animals that often struggle to breathe, swim, or maintain healthy body temperatures when they are coated in the substance. This, in turn, can also ruin seafood and drinking water for humans and land animals. By recycling oil, the car recycling industry is preventing significant quantities of oil (which can often drip from cars sitting in landfills) from entering storm drains, rivers, and lakes. 

Cars have become a staple of everyday life for many Americans. First of all, we use them to go to work. Then to visit our families, and get groceries. 

Since a lot of us will also own multiple cars throughout our lives. For it then so important that we dispose of them. Especially in the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways possible. By recycling our cars, we as consumers can make big strides. Finally in living frugal, sustainable lives.

About the Author

My name is Carmen and I am a master’s student at San Diego State University. I’m an advocate of being Eco-conscious and I was one of the organizers for the Surfrider Foundation at my university.

I recently did extensive research on recycling. It was in regards to a topic that isn’t discussed much but it can have a significant impact on the environment. This topic is car recycling.

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