A lot of them come from other cars. Auto recycling is a big business, and not just because it’s environmentally sensible: it’s profitable too. The largest single component in an automobile is the steel in its frame and body. Recycling steel uses 74% less energy than milling new steel, and you don’t have to mine a new vein of iron ore to do it. About 76 million tons of iron and steel are recycled from old cars into new ones every year, and about 25% of steel produced early consists of recycled metals. The frame and body panels aren’t the only things that can be recycled, either. Plastic and rubber are also prime targets for auto recycling. In the future, especially in Europe, more and more car parts are going to be recycled; the European Union instituted rules mandating that by 2015, 95% of each car produced in Europe must consist of recycled parts. Whether this target will be met in practice is another matter, but it’s clear that there’s a move afoot to recycle automobiles as much as possible.
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