Recycled Steel from Old Cars

 In Steel Recycling

Around 12 million vehicles come to the end of their life annually in the US, and 95% of them are recycled. The process has become remarkably efficient, with between 75% and 90% of the parts of a vehicle repurposed, reused, or recycled. Most of the steel going to American steel mills is recycled steel from cars.

Making steel from iron ore is a labor and energy intensive process, which is getting more expensive by the day. Iron ore has to be mined and transported, usually by rail. Both industries are becoming more expensive in both human and environmental costs. Steel can be recycled without changing its nature; shredded, melted, or compressed, it remains steel, with the inherent strength and malleability of the original metal. It doesn’t degrade with time.

The process of recycling old cars and other vehicles has become remarkably efficient. Tires are removed and evaluated to see if they have any road worthy life left. If not, they are shredded and become the fill in new roadbeds. In the engine, fluids are drained and either filtered and reused, or sequestered as hazardous materials. Parts of the engine, or the entire engine, if it’s in workable shape, are removed and sold as parts. The auto glass is crushed and recycled into many products.

In the interior, soft materials such as seats are shredded and either recycled or sent to landfills. The heating and air conditioning units, entertainment systems, and other interior plug and play systems are removed and resold. The interior wiring is removed. What is left is steel.

At this point, the car body is either crushed flat or cubed for easier transportation to industrial shredder or hammer mills. There, the metal is shredded and sorted, and can be sold by weight, and in bulk, to steel mills to be made into new products.

Recycled steel also comes from recycling ships. Ship breaking is most commonly done in Asia and Africa, and their steel mills get the metal for recycling. America has developed a remarkably safe and efficient system for recycling our old cars that keeps most of the materials out of landfills and repurposed, recycled, or reused.

In St. Louis, Scrap Mart Metals is the highest pay-out option for recycled steel. Get in touch for more information!