Solid Waste - Automotive Materials
Almost every part of a car is recyclable. The largest component recycled is steel. Automotive wreckers recycle cars by selling as many parts as possible off a junked or wrecked car and then crushing and shredding it before sale to a steel mill for purposes of making new steel.
What You Can Do:
If your car is near dead, recycling it is as simple as calling your local junkyard, which can be found in any phonebook. Most will either accept the vehicle for free at their facility or come and pick it up for a minimal fee at your residence. Another option is to donate the vehicle to one of many nonprofit organizations, such as the National Kidney Foundation, that will come pick it up for free and offer the option of writing off the value of the donation on your taxes (see below for details).
Though there are many promising technologies being developed to recycle tires, but there are still significant costs involved. The most common way tires are recycled is by shredding whole tires into chips with large machines and burning them as a fuel to make energy at power plants or cement kilns.
What You Can Do:
The best option for recycling car tires is to pay the fee (usually a couple of dollars) and leave them at the tire shop when you replace your tires. If you have a few tires laying around in the garage, take them to a tire shop. The tire shop is then responsible for complying with applicable laws and using a licensed hauler and disposal or recycling facility.
Oil and Antifreeze and Other Fluids
Mismanagement of used motor oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, or brake fluid are a serious environmental problem. Every year, "do-it-yourselfers" generate over 300 million gallons of used oil. Unfortunately, much of this oil is handled improperly - either dumped into sewers, thrown in the trash, or poured on the ground. Used oil that is dumped into storm drains and sewers may discharge directly into open water. The Coast Guard estimates that storm drains discharge twice as much oil into coastal waters as do tanker accidents - "15 million gallons per year versus 7.5 million gallons from accidents."
What You Can Do: Automotive oils can be recycled, saving energy and avoiding pollution. Be responsible when disposing of your used motor oil. Call your local government office to see if they have a used oil collection program. Also, many "quick" oil change centers accept used motor oil for recycling. Inquire at your local service station about the recycling of other automotive fluids. Another option is to wait for a household hazardous waste collection day in your community.
For More Information:
The following links provide information on reducing and recycling automotive-related waste.
Automotive Parts section of the EPA Commodities web page
Automotive Recyclers Association
National Kidney Foundation Recycling Institute
Steel Recycling Institute
Scrap Tire Management Council
Tire Industry Association
Scrap Tire News
EPA Used Oil Management Program
National Oil Recyclers Association
American Petroleum Institute
Coordination Committee for Auto Repair