car recycling

Looking for a New Pastime? Try Car Recycling

Every year over 10 million cars take their final ride to salvage yards and auto recycling centers across the nation. Already, we know what you’re thinking, “That’s a lot of junk!”. But as the old adage goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And in the case of automobiles, that couldn’t be more true. Today, thousands of auto yards are filled with valuable materials that can be broken down and turned into something new. Plain and simple, the car recycling industry is booming and we’re pretty fascinated by how quickly manufacturers have adapted to these recycled resources. In fact, it’s reported that nearly 25% of recycled materials are used in the production of new vehicles nowadays.

As the world pivots toward a greener lifestyle, we’re glad to see that the automotive industry is steps ahead in finding solutions for the accumulating waste it produces. The best part is, you can help too! Do you have an old car sitting in your garage? Have you racked up a bunch of old car parts over the years? You can do your part to help the environment by making sure these items get recycled. Read on to learn about the intricacies of car recycling and why it just might become your next favorite pastime.

Car recycling process

To fully grasp the concept of auto recycling, first let’s review the basic principles of recycling a vehicle. In comparison to decades ago when junkyards were filled to the brim with old clunkers, scrap car parts and tires stacked by the dozen, now the process of decomposing old cars is rather streamlined. Thanks to new technologies and innovation over the years, more than 80% of vehicles can be recycled or reused for other purposes. That’s pretty extraordinary!

5-step process for car recycling:

  • Depollution (safely discarding any remaining car fluids)
  • Dismantling (scavenging for reusable parts)
  • Crushing and shredding (shred the car into hand-sized steel & aluminum pieces)
  • Resource recovery (separate ferrous metals from non-recyclable materials)
  • Outsource to manufacturers (send scrap metal to automakers and manufacturers for production)

Here’s a brief video to show how one wreck yard recycles its vehicles:

The jewels of car recycling

Now that you get the gist of car recycling, let’s talk car parts. Since the production of vehicles is massive, it’s important as car owners to help ease the impact. Right now, one of the best ways of doing that is by making sure old car parts get recycled.

Car batteries

Due to a combination of plastic, acid and lead, car batteries must be disposed or recycled once a vehicle is no longer functioning. Because of this, 99% of car batteries actually get recycled, making it one of the most recycled items in the U.S. If you have an old car battery sitting in your garage, consider taking it to an auto center or junkyard for recycling. You might even make a little cash as well.

car recycling


Recycling old tires is incredibly important due to their non-biodegradable nature. Oftentimes, a tire will stay, as is, throughout its entire lifetime. Although recently, government agencies and environmental organizations have worked towards finding new uses for old, overused tires. Advanced technology, like the devulcanization of rubber, is allowing us to look at tires in a new, reusable way.

Glass windows

Glass is one material that doesn’t break down well. In fact, it takes an estimated 1 million years to decompose properly. As a result, you’re better off selling old glass windows to auto body shops or car enthusiasts looking for replacement parts. What’s more, artists and other creative industries may find a good use for your old car windows too.

car recycling

Starters and alternators

Starters and alternators are excellent sources for scrap copper and steel. That being the case, you can definitely earn some extra cash by selling your old starter or alternator to a recycling facility or salvage yard. Another great option is selling these parts directly to a fellow car owner. You can put adverts on Craigslist and other automotive sites that will ultimately lead you to the right buyer.

Oil filters

Out of all the items on our list, oil and oil filters rank at the top. Oil is a known containment to water, making it difficult to clean and highly detrimental to animals and plant species. As a result, never throw motor oil or oil filters in the trash. Instead, take them to an auto shop, recycling facility, or auto center like Autozone for proper decomposition.

Overview of car recycling

If you’re looking for a sustainable pastime, car recycling is your answer. In addition, it’s a great way to clear out the unnecessary junk in your garage. And earn some extra cash. Point is, if an item no longer has value to you, might as well give it new purpose. You can help make this happen by recycling any materials from your old vehicle at recycling plant or designated auto center. The next time you’re at a garage sale or flea market, keep an eye out for scrap car parts. Take them to a junkyard for recycling to help make a positive impact on the planet.

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Linzi Martin
Linzi Martin has worked as a content manager, consultant, and writer for the past six years. She's handled everything from blogs and articles to e-books and social media content. Her work has been featured in various publications including Apartment Guide, The Startup, and Voyage Magazine. Outside of work, Linzi enjoys staying active, frequenting new restaurants around South Florida, and spending time with her family.

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