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Automotive Parts

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The vehicle that you are driving today will be a source of numerous recyclable materials tomorrow. Vehicle parts offer recycling opportunities for materials such as steel, aluminum, plastics, antifreeze, and batteries, as well as whole parts such as tires, seats, engines, and alternators.

Just the Facts

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More Automobile Information

The United States Council for Automotive Research Exit EPA is the umbrella organization of Daimler Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Formed in 1992, its mission is to strengthen the technology base of the domestic auto industry through cooperative research.

The Automotive Recyclers Association Exit EPA is an international trade association that represents the auto recycling industry. It is a source of information on the removal and reuse of automotive parts and disposal of inoperable motor vehicles.

The International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies Exit EPA is an international organization representing automotive engineers and automotive societies.

The Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) Exit EPA, a unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, provides information on recycling for all steel products.

Recycling Automotive Parts

Cars are recycled in four steps: dismantling, crushing, shredding, and resource recovery. In the dismantling stage, processors recover the fluids and take apart the usable parts and components. These include batteries, wheels and tires, steering columns, fenders, radios, engines, starters, transmissions, alternators, select plastic parts and components, glass, foams, catalytic convertors, and other components, based on aftermarket demand. The processor then crushes the vehicle and loads it onto the vehicle shredder. The shredder grinds the vehicle into fist-sized pieces, which are then separated into ferrous and non-ferrous (aluminum) metals, as well as ASR. After separation, the recovered metals are remelted at the mills, and the ASR is landfilled.

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Lifecycle Assessment

Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) might be a valuable tool for striking a balance between recycling and other environmental priorities in automotive parts design. Researchers worldwide now are actively developing LCA and considering global standardization and regional differences.

Scientists are developing highly advanced technologies, which will allow more effective recovery of the materials currently not reused from end-of-life vehicles. Such advancements include infrared polymer identification; automated, high-speed materials identification (for plastics, aluminum alloys etc); feedstock recycling; and paint removal/treatment.

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