Automobile Salvage & Recycling Facts & Statistics [The Complete List]

The Automotive Recycling Industry

  • Europe, US and Japan are the largest ferrous scrap exporters in the world, holding a market share of over 33%. These countries are also the largest auto recyclers and hold over 70% of total auto recycling in the world. (Source)
  • In fact, automotive recycling is the 16th largest industry in the United States, estimated to be a $25 billion per year industry. (Source)
  • Automotive recycling businesses employ over 140,000 people at more than 9,000 locations around the country. (Source)
  • Automotive recyclers are small businesses, with 86 percent employing ten or fewer people. (Source)
  • The median number of employees is four in the U.S. (Source)
  • Owners are the only employees at one-in-five businesses (19 percent). Based on Axion Research (1997) (Source)
  • Each year the industry collects and reuses or recycles an estimated (Source):
    • 8 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel
    • 24 million gallons of motor oil
    • 8 million gallons of engine coolant
    • 5 million gallons of windshield washer fluid
    • 96% of all lead acid batteries

Recycling Rates of Cars

  • Around the world, 27 million cars reach the end of their useful lives each year—some are the average 11-year old vehicles driven until their last mile while others are current year models involved in crashes. (Source)
  • The automobile is the most recycled consumer product in the world today. (Source) In the US, it comes second only to lead-acid batteries. (Source)
  • In Europe, nearly 8 million cars are recycled annually, while in the US, the number approaches 12 million. (Source)
  • Nationwide, about 26 automobiles are recycled every minute, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. (Source)
  • In the US, approximately 95 percent of vehicles retired from use are processed for recycling each year. (Source) This is more than the recycling rates for paper (72%), steel cans (67%), aluminum cans (50%), and glass (33%), according to 2010 data. (Source)

How much of a vehicle is recycled?

  • Around the world, over 25 million tons of heterogeneous material is recycled from old vehicles. (Source)
  • Approximately 86% of a vehicle’s material content is recycled, reused or used for energy recovery (Source), with metal being the largest target material for recovery. (Source)
  • Typically vehicles in North America are composed of approximately 20% post-consumer recycled material by weight. (Source)

Ferrous Metal/Steel

  • Every year, more than 14 million tons of recycled steel in derived from junk vehicles. (Source)
  • Recycling autos provides enough steel to produce almost 13 million new automobiles, while generating jobs for 46,000 people. (Source)
  • The average recycling rate for steel and iron in cars is close to 100%. (Source)
  • By weight, the typical passenger car consists of about 60 percent steel and iron. The steel used to make the shell of your car, including the doors, hood, trunk and quarter panels, contains a minimum of 25 percent recycled content. (Source) Once all fluids have been drained and reusable parts removed from an automobile, scrap processors shred it and sell the valuable ferrous material to steel mills. (Source)
  • When steel mills use scrap steel instead of iron ore in the manufacturing of new product, energy use is reduced by 75%, raw material usage by 90%, air pollution by 86%, water use by 40%, water pollution by 76%, mining wastes by 97%, and consumer wastes by 105%. (Source)
  • The collection of recycled steel through recycle services annually saves the equivalent energy to power about 18 million households for a year. (Source)
  • The importance of recycling steel is emphasized when you consider recycling a single ton conserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. (Source)
  • Automotive recyclers provide nearly 40 percent of all recycled steel ( the most recycled metal) in America. (Source)
  • Last year, enough steel from old cars was recycled to produce 48 million steel utility poles, one third of the utility poles in the U.S. (Source)
  • Across North America, automotive recycling provides around 40 percent of ferrous metal for scrap processing industry. (Source)
  • Automotive recycling industry supplies around 37% of all ferrous metal to blast furnaces and smelters across the US. (Source)

Environmental Benefits

  • The recycling of end-of-life vehicles saves an estimated 85 million barrels of oil that would have been used in the manufacturing of new or replacement parts, (Source) leading to significant reductions in air and water pollution. (Source)
  • End of Life Vehicle Solutions Corporation, established by the auto industry, works with over 9,000 recyclers in this effort and has collected approximately 4 million switches to date, keeping 9,000 lbs of mercury out of the environment. (Source)
  • By using recycled metals, CO2 emissions are reduced in the manufacturing process. CO2 is known to contribute to global warming as a GHG by intensifying the amount of heat retained by the atmosphere. Given the approximately 12.6 million vehicles recycled each year by the automotive recycling industry, GHG emissions are reduced by over 30 million metric tons per year. (Source)
  • Recycling four tires reduces CO2 by about 323 pounds, which is equivalent to 18 gallons of gasoline. (Source)

Financial Benefits

  • Automotive recyclers supply retail and wholesale customers with quality auto parts that cost 20 percent to 80 percent less than comparable new auto parts. (Source)

Aluminum

  • Approximately 90% of aluminum of a vehicle is recovered and recycled. Although the aluminum recovered from an old vehicle represents lesser than 10% of the vehicle by weight, it accounts for nearly 50% of the vehicle’s scrap value. (Source)

Motor Oil/Fluids

  • Proper management of used oil is of utmost importance. Used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water — a years’ supply for 50 people. (Source)
  • Every year, the amount of hazardous fluids and oils reclaimed safely by auto recyclers is equal to 8 Exxon Valdez disasters! (Source)

Car Batteries

  • Approximately 98-99% of car batteries can be recycled. (Source)

Car Tires

  • Car tire recycling is viable and material can be used to produce sandals and roadways. (Source)
  • One billion tires reach the end of their useful lives every year. (Source)
  • One passenger tire per person is discarded each year in the developed world. (Source)
  • An estimated 4 billion end-of-life tires are currently in landfills and stockpiles worldwide. (Source)
  • The recovery rate of end-of-life tires is now more than 85% for Europe, the US and Japan. (Source)
  • Nearly 9 in 10 of the 246 million scrap tires discarded annually in the US are consumed in an end use market. The reuse rate for tires exceeds the rates for glass bottles, aluminum cans and plastic bottles. (Source)
  • U.S. scrap rubber manufacturers recycle roughly 110 million tires annually – or one tire for every three people in the U.S. (Source)

ASR

  • About 20% of a vehicle can’t be recycled and is termed as ‘auto shredder residue (ASR)’, which includes ferrous and non ferrous metal pieces, dirt, glass, fabric, paper, wood, rubber and plastic. Every year, around 5 million tons of ASR is disposed off in landfills. In Europe, 75% of a car is recycled, making the ASR items 25% of the car. According to an estimate, in Europe, recycling facilities will soon be able to recycle 95% of each car, by weight. (Source)
  • An estimated 5 million tons of ASR are diverted to landfills each year; automotive plastics represents about 0.5 percent by weight of a typical landfill. (Source)