The last stage in the life cycle of an automobile is its disposal and recycling. In the United States, between 10 and 12 million cars are disposed of each year. In most cases, the first stage of disposal is handled by a wrecking or salvage yard. Most states require the salvage yard to have the title to an auto before the vehicle can be destroyed and to contact a state agency regarding its destruction. This step helps to prevent the destruction of cars used in crimes. Salvage yards typically must be licensed with a state pollution control agency for hazardous waste disposal. Salvage yards remove parts and items of value that can be recycled from the vehicle, such as batteries and fluids. What is left of the automobile is then sold to a shredder, a business that breaks the car up into small parts and separates the metal from the nonmetal parts. Roughly 25 percent of the auto cannot be recycled and must be disposed of in a landfill. Auto residue to be disposed of in a landfill typically must be tested to see that it meets the standards for disposal of hazardous waste.
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