The Environmental Benefits Of Recycling Auto Parts

Company News, News & Events

carRecycling is a way of life for many these days; nearly any material can be recycled or reused in one way or another. Old automobiles are certainly no exception to this rule, and recycling them provides a number of benefits to the environment—and the wallet.


Immediate Environmental Benefits

Nearly every automobile manufactured today—anywhere in the world—has a frame that is constructed of steel. If that steel were recycled, imagine the amount of iron ore that could be saved for future endeavors. Also, since coal is required to refine iron ore into steel, every ton of steel that is recycled from old automobiles saves nearly a half ton of coal. Aside from this, the limestone that must be destroyed to mine that coal is also spared; this protects precious resources and saves time, energy and ultimately money. Recycling the fluids and materials found in old automobiles also drastically reduces the amount of waste in landfills and prevents dangerous chemicals from seeping into groundwater.

Greenhouse Gases

Recycling steel prevents the need to manufacture new steel; this reduces the need to refine iron ore and transform it into the steel that creates new cars. It is much more energy efficient to simply melt down the old steel and re-mold it than to mine for iron ore, transport it to a refinery and then use massive amounts of energy to create the steel. Coal-burning plants and refineries are the largest contributors to greenhouse gases in the environment, second only to the gasoline and diesel burning automobiles that are on the streets and highways of the world today. Even a slight reduction—recycling only one automobile—can immediately reduce the amount of these gases in the air.

Reusing Parts

There is more to protecting the environment than simply recycling used materials. The famous slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” reminds everyone that reducing the amount of non-sustainable materials they consume and reusing those that cannot be avoided is just as important as recycling. As such, many salvage yards go to great lengths in order to harvest parts from wrecked and junk automobiles that can be repaired and resold for later use. Most accidents do not destroy every part in an automobile; there are usually at least a dozen salvageable parts on any car. Selling a used or wrecked car to a salvage yard puts money in the pocket of the consumer and protects the environment for future generations.

Long-Term Environmental Benefits

The more people who recycle their vehicles in order to preserve the environment and earn some extra cash, the more people that will eventually follow suit. It is hoped that automobile recycling will become the norm someday and thus greatly reduce the number of rusty, unusable vehicles found in junkyards and landfills all over the world. Even one automobile recycled per lifetime by every single American would prevent more than a billion tons of dangerous greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

There are many benefits to be had when it comes to automobile recycling including extra money, reducing the number of fossil fuels and ores that are consumed and even preventing greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Recycling old automobiles is a great way to preserve the environment today and for years to come.

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Auto Recycling Glossary

Company News, Glossary, News & Events

Automotive Recycling

The efficient, ecological disposal of inoperable motor vehicles and reclaiming reusable parts and components. C.A.R.

Certified Automotive Recycler

A designation awarded by ARA to recyclers who meet a set of standards for general business practices, and environmental and safety issues.

Car Salvage Value

The amount of money a junk, wrecked or total loss vehicle is worth to a seller or the value of the parts and recycled metal to a vehicle processor

Dismantle | Dismantled

To take a used vehicle apart for the purpose of reclaiming usable parts. Dismantling takes place in a dismantling bay.

Electronic Parts

* In late-model vehicles. Includes electronic fuel or ignition systems, computer boards

Fluid Recovery System

* The system the automotive recycler has set up to collect and recycle or dispose of the fluids remaining in salvage vehicles in an environmentally-responsible fashion.

Junk Car Removal

A term commonly used to locate a company who will tow your junk car away for processing

Junk Cars for Money

A term commonly used to locate or describe a business which pays people for junk and salvageable vehicles


see also Junk Yard A term commonly used to describe a business who’s main operation is the dismantling of vehicle into components to be sold as used parts and/or scrap metal.

L.K.Q. Parts

* Like kind and quality. Describes replacement parts that are of the same quality as the original prior to an accident. LKQ parts can be new, OEM replacement, or recycled parts.

Parts Car

A car dismantled into usable parts to be sold or reused.

Recycle Car

*The efficient, ecological disposal of inoperable motor vehicles and reclaiming reusable parts and components.

Remanufactured Parts

* Used hard parts that have been reconditioned to the same quality as new.

Salvage Yard

A facility which processes vehicles for salvage.

Scrap Cars for Cash

A term commonly used by the public to describe a business which pays money for vehicles which have reached the end of their life and have little value for their hard parts and are therefore sold for the vale of their metal contents.

Scrap Value

Similar to scrap prices – the worth of a vehicles metal contents.

Totaled Vehicle

* A determination made by an insurance company when the cost of repair plus the salvage value is greater than the car’s Blue Book value.

We Buy Junk Cars

A term commonly used to locate a company which pays cash for junk and salvageable vehicles.

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Recycling In General

Company News, News & Events, Recycling Acts & Stats

Overall, Americans recovered 34% of waste generated in 2009. That means we threw away 161 million tons of material, which amounts to about three pounds of garbage per person per day.

There were about 9,000 curbside recycling programs in the United States in 2009.

In 2009, Americans recycled 82 million tons of materials. The resulting CO2 emission reduction is equivalent to taking 33 million passenger vehicles off the road.

The recyclable materials in the U.S. waste stream would generate over $7 billion if they were recycled. That’s equivalent to Donald Trump’s net worth.

The recycling industry employed over 1.1 million workers and generated over $236 billion in annual revenue in 2001. Increasing recycling rates and new collection programs show that the industry is growing.


In 2009, 3.4 million tons of aluminum were generated in the U.S. and .69 million tons were recovered.

In the United States, over 100,000 aluminum cans are recycled each minute. That amounts to 53 billion cans recycled in 2010. However, over $1.1 billion in aluminum cans were wasted in 2010.

The aluminum cans recycled in 2010, stacked one on top of the other, would be 1,454 times taller than the Empire State Building.

If you laid all the aluminum cans recycled in 2010 end to end, they could circle the earth 169 times!

The U.S. recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans reached 58.1% in 2010- a rate that is more than double that of any other beverage container.


  • Aluminum cans have 68% recycled content.
  • Used aluminum cans are recycled and back on the shelf as new cans in as few as 60 days.


  • Twenty recycled cans can be made with the energy needed to produce one can using virgin ore.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours.
  • The amount of energy saved just from recycling cans in 2010 is equal to the energy equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil, or nearly two days of all U.S. oil imports.


  • The pollutants created in producing one ton of aluminum include 3,290 pounds of red mud, 2,900 pounds of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), 81 pounds of air pollutants and 789 pounds of solid wastes.
  • Tossing away an aluminum can wastes as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume of gasoline.


In 2009, 25% of all electronics at the end of their useful “lives” were collected for recycling.

Approximately 38% (by weight) of all computers ready for “end-of-life management” in 2009 were collected for recycling.

Only 17% (by weight) of all televisions at their “end-of-life” were recovered for recycling in 2009.

Only 8% (by weight) of all mobile phones no longer in use in 2009 were collected for recycling.

The average consumer replaces their mobile phone every 20.5 months.


In 2009, 12 million tons of glass was generated in the United States, and 3 million tons were recovered.

In 2009, Americans threw away almost 9 million tons of glass. That amount could fill enough tractor trailers to stretch from New York to Los Angeles and back!


Over a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone, and 160 pounds of feldspar.

That means that Americans wasted around 11 million pounds of sand with the glass bottles discarded in 2009. That amount could fill every room in the White House with sand 12 feet deep!


Glass container manufacturers use up to 70% recycled glass, or “cullet.”

A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days.


Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours, power a computer for 30 minutes, or a television for 20 minutes.

Use of cullet in place of raw material saves energy because it melts at a lower temperature. That means it also emits less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, two greenhouse gasses.


In 2010, Americans recovered 63.5% of U.S. paper— an 89% increase in recovery since 1990. However, we threw away $2.8 billion worth of paper!

In 2010, Americans trashed enough paper to cover 26,700 football fields or 17,800 soccer fields in paper three feet deep.


87% (268 million) of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs.


31% of the paper and paperboard recovered in the U.S. in 2010 went to produce containerboard (i.e. corrugated boxes) and 12% went to produce boxboard (i.e. cereal boxes).

As of 2010, 80 percent of U.S. paper mills (115 mills) relied on recycled paper. In fact, it supplied 37 percent of their material.


Nearly 40% of the paper collected for recycling in the U.S. in 2010 was exported to China and other nations.


Producing recycled paper takes 40% less energy than producing paper from virgin wood pulp.


It takes 24 trees to make one ton of uncoated virgin (non-recycled) printing and office paper.

Using recycled scrap paper instead of virgin material saves 7,000 gallons of water per ton of paper produced.

Recycled paper production creates 74 percent less air pollution and 35 percent less water pollution than virgin paper production.


In 2009, almost 30 million tons of plastics were generated in the United States, and only around 2 million tons were recovered.

In 2009, 2.12 million tons of plastics (of all kinds) were recycled in the United States. However, that was only 7.1% of all plastics generated in 2009.

In 2009, the plastic bottle recycling rate reached a record high of 2.5 billion pounds, or 28% of all plastic bottles consumed in the United States.


In 2009, $485 million worth of plastic was wasted in the United States. That’s enough for 1,000 households to live on the U.S. median income for nearly a decade.


94% of Americans have access to plastic bottle recycling and 40% of the population can also recycle other types of plastic containers, like dairy tubs and lids.

Within the 100 largest cities via a 2,500-community person survey, the percentage of the population with access to recycle plastic containers in addition to bottles has nearly doubled since 2008.


If all 8 billion pounds of plastic bottles produced in the U.S. in 2009 had been recycled, the material could have produced 22 million extra large t-shirts.

The amount of plastic bottles recycled in 2009, provided enough raw material for about 7 million shirts to be made.

44 percent increase in 2009 of RPET (Recycled PET) used in food and beverage bottles.


Every pound of recycled PET used in place of virgin material reduces energy use in plastic production by 84% and greenhouse gas emissions by 71%


In 2009, over 855 million pounds of plastic bags and wraps were recycled in the U.S. – up 31% percent from 2005.

Americans recycled 200 million more pounds of plastic bags and film in 2009 than we recycled in 2005.


Only 9 percent of plastic bags, sacks, and wraps were recycled in 2009. That means 3,470 tons – or $694,000 worth—were discarded!

Over half of all recovered film was exported in 2009, compared to about 1/4 in 2005.


With a 66.2% recycling rate, steel containers are one of the most recycled materials in the United States. Every minute, approximately 20,000 steel cans are recycled in the United States

In 2009, 16 million tons of steel were generated in the U.S., and 5 million tons were recovered.

Each year, more steel is recycled than aluminum, paper, glass and plastic combined.

In the past 50 years, more than 50 percent of the steel produced in this country has been recycled through the steelmaking process.


In 2009, Americans threw away 10.39 million tons of steel. That amounts to more than $3 billion in wasted material, or enough to buy lunch for everyone in the United States!


Steel producers in the United States use more than 70% recycled steel.


Recycling steel and tin cans saves between 60 and 74 percent of the energy used to produce them from raw materials.


  • Recycling one ton of steel conserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.


  • In 2009, we filled United States landfills with trash equivalent to the weight of 88 million cars.
  • In 2009, Americans produced enough trash to circle the earth 24 times.

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Aluminum Recycling Interesting Facts

Company News, News & Events, Recycling Acts & Stats , ,

  1. Discovered in the 1820s, aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth.
  2. Over 50 percent of the aluminum cans produced are recycled.
  3. A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days.
  4. Aluminum is a durable and sustainable metal: two-thirds of the aluminum ever produced is in use today.
  5. Every minute of every day, an average of 113,204 aluminum cans are recycled.
  6. Making new aluminum cans from used cans takes 95 percent less energy; 20 recycled cans can be made with the energy needed to produce one can using virgin ore.
  7. Recycling one aluminum saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television
  8. for three hours.
  9. In 2005, 54 billion cans were recycled saving energy equivalent to 15 million barrels of crude oil – America’s entire gas consumption for one day.
  10. Tossing away an aluminum can wastes as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume of gasoline.
  11. In 1972, 24,000 metric tons of aluminum used beverage containers (UBCs) were recycled. In 1998, the amount increased to over 879,000 metric tons.
  12. In 1972, it took about 22 empty aluminum cans to weigh one pound. Due to advanced technology to use less material and increase durability of aluminum cans, in 2002 it took about 34 empty aluminum cans to weigh one pound.
  13. While at work, the average employee consumes 2.5 beverages a day.

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5 Tips for Teaching Your Children to go Green

Company News, News & Events, Recycling for Kids

This post is sponsored by Direct Energy, but my support for their green efforts is all my own!

Teaching Your Children to go Green

1. Turn off the lights!  I’ll never forget how my dad taught me to turn off the lights when I was growing up. He would make sure I was totally involved in some activity, like Turn off the lights! homework or watching TV. He would stand by my room and yell across the house for me telling me to come quick because he had to show me something. The excitement in his voice would always make me come quick. As soon as I got there, he would simply say, “You left your light on.”

As frustrated as it would make me, I never forgot about that and now that is exactly how I hae been teaching my own kids about turning off their lights. It TOTALLY works!

2. Conserve water! My kids’ favorite part of our bedtime routine is brushing their teeth. Instead of letting the water run while brushing, we always make sure to only turn it on only as it’s needed. For our older kids, we try to teach them more about the length of their showers. Let’s face it, sometimes I have to remind myself about the appropriate length of my own showers!

3. Recycle! In our city, we have a specific recycle day and the city even gives us blue bags to use for all of our recycling products. My kids get excited when they know something doesn’t belong in the trash, but rather the recycling bag. Since paper, plastics, and aluminum can all be recycled, we tend to fill our bags up fairly quickly and it only adds to my kids’ excitement.

4. Lead by example! At the end of the day, your may not remember everything you said, but they are watching everything you do! Teach them by example.

5. Get their hands dirty! My kids love to play in dirt. I have two young boys, so sometimes dirt is their middle name! I like to make their time in the dirt a little bit more intentional by teaching them about planting things like plants and trees. They enjoy caring for their plants and I get to share with them why it’s important to plant new things!

Recycle USA, Inc. believes that we should all make a positive impact to the environment and that you don’t have to completely change your life in order to do so.

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