A Vital U.S. Industry
The United States automotive recycling industry supports more than $32 billion in sales annually and plays a crucial role in the efficient, environmentally responsible recycling of end-of-life vehicles. Automotive recycling businesses employ over 140,000 people at more than 9,000 locations around the country.
Auto recyclers remove parts such as engines, transmissions, doors and bumpers for reuse in other vehicles. Other parts that can also be remanufactured include starters, alternators and water pumps. Batteries, catalytic converters, tires and some plastics are removed and their materials are recycled into new products. Fluids such as engine oil, coolant, and gasoline are carefully managed to prevent releases by storing them in double-walled tanks and/or secondary containment prior to being reused or recycled.
Old consumer products are recycled into components of new vehicles. For instance, milk jugs are recycled into auto trim, carpet and used clothing into sound deadening material, and spent battery casings become splash shields. Recycled plastic bottles are used to make heating and air conditioning vent covers and engine oil level gauges. Nylon carpet is used in air cleaners and evaporative emissions systems. Additional post-consumer plastics are used in components like underbody shields, battery trays, fan shrouds, air conditioner housings and carpets.
Used carpet becomes air cleaner assemblies and engine fan modules, and manufacturers build new tires with 10% recycled tire rubber material. Recycled tire rubber is also used in brake pedals or floor mats.
Autos are the most recycled consumer product with 95% of retired passenger vehicles processed for recycling every year. From floor mats and fluids to aluminum and steel, approximately 86% of a car’s material content is recycled, reused, or used for energy recovery.