Although Cash for Clunkers is over, the economic benefits for tow-truck operators and auto recyclers should continue for at least the next month. All of those clunkers didn’t just end up at the scrap yard overnight. Many of them will sit on dealer lots until the federal government issues reimbursement checks. While this delay is troublesome to many dealers, it will create a steady stream of business for the auto recycling industry.
Scrap steel is selling for about $150 to $160 per ton, which means an SUV like the Ford Explorer is worth roughly $300-$400.
Then there is the value of the parts. By law, the clunkers’ engines have to be killed, but recyclers can make a good deal of money from other parts. Everything from transmissions ($100-$400 depending on mileage) to dent-free doors ($200 apiece) to aluminum wheels ($13 a pop) can bring in revenue.
In the meantime, recycling just one ton of steel conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone, according to the Steel Recycling Institute.
Clunkers Recycling Boosts Scrap Business (Detroit Free Press)