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Auto Salvage-Great Lakes Region: Background and Overview
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
Barriers to Change
Environmental Regulations
P2 Opportunities
Key Contacts
Where to go for P2 Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Toxics in Vehicles: Mercury, Implications for Recycling and Disposal
Produced by the Clean Car Campaign of the Ecology Center, Great Lakes United, and the University of ...

Automobiles are integral parts of the lives of most North Americans. Much of our society and culture are shaped by our relationships to and dependence upon our automobiles. A car can be a symbol of so many things to different people--independence, freedom, individuality, power, wealth, status, security, attitude, safety, etc. Our vehicles provide us with the means to get to work everyday, to take our children to school, to go on vacations, and to quickly and efficiently do the myriad of errands we all need to accomplish on a regular basis. Because vehicles are so important to our sense of self and to the practical functioning of our lives, people tend to give the selection of a new automobile a good deal of thought. Environmental awareness and a desire to prevent pollution is gradually becoming more of a factor in the selection of new vehicles, as concerns about fuel efficiency and air quality become more important to North Americans, and as hybrid and other alternative vehicles become more popular and more readily available. However, few people give much thought to what happens to their old automobile when they trade it in for a new one, or what happens to all automobiles when they have reached the end of their useful ?lifespan? in general, let alone what the environmental impacts of dealing with ?end of life vehicles (ELVs)? are. Auto salvage yards employ thousands of people across the United States, with a little over a third of all U.S. salvage yards being located in Great Lakes states (see the demographics listed below).

The information presented in this Topic Hub has been developed to enable assistance providers and automobile salvage facilities in the Great Lakes region to go beyond the minimum environmental compliance requirements through waste minimization and pollution prevention activities, and to simultaneously eliminate the applicability of some federal, state, or local environmental requirements. The ultimate goal is to prevent the release of chemicals to the environment through pollution prevention practices at auto salvage facilities.

This hub builds on the foundation of identifying the common waste streams and contaminants found at a salvage facility and some of the key environmental regulations that impact this industry. The hub then provides specific suggestions on how to minimize the negative impacts to the environment from a salvage facility. This includes actions that facility owners can implement prior to building a new facility as well as actions that existing facilities can take to minimize environmental impact and improve business efficiency. These pollution prevention (P2) actions may also save business owners and operators money up front in terms of day to day operating costs (permits, waste disposal costs, etc) and reduce indirect costs such as activities and conditions that may impact insurance costs as well as long term liability.

Great Lakes Region Demographics: Auto Salvage Yards

These statistics were taken from the U.S. Census Bureau?s 2000 County Business Patterns database. Beginning with the 1997 Economic Census, the Census Bureau began using North American Industrial Classification (NAICS) codes, rather than Standard Industrial Classification codes. Because many older documents still reference SIC codes, both are included here.

Applicable Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes

Operation/Product SIC Code
Motor Vehicle Parts, Used 5015
Scrap and Waste Materials 5093

SIC 5015 includes establishments primarily engaged in the distribution at wholesale or retail of used motor vehicle parts. This industry includes establishments primarily engaged in dismantling motor vehicles for the purpose of selling parts. Establishments primarily engaged in dismantling vehicles for scrap are classified in SIC 5093. (SIC Manual, 1987)

SIC 5093 includes establishments primarily engaged in assembling, breaking up, sorting, and wholesale distribution of scrap and waste materials. This industry includes auto wreckers engaged in dismantling automobiles for scrap. However, those engaged in dismantling cars for the purpose of selling secondhand parts are classified in SIC 5015. (SIC Manual, 1987)

Applicable North American Industrial Classification (NAICS) Codes

Because the wholesale trade NAICS category was substantially revised in 2002, NAICS codes for both 1997 and 2002 are included here. The 2002 NAICS revisions will be implemented in the 2002 U.S. Economic Census.

Operation/Product 1997 NAICS Code
Recyclable Material Wholesalers 421930

NAICS 421930 comprises establishments primarily engaged in wholesaling scrap from automotive, industrial, and other recyclable materials. Included in this industry are auto wreckers primarily engaged in dismantling motor vehicles for the purpose of wholesaling scrap. (NAICS, 1997)

Operation/Product 2002 NAICS Code
Motor Vehicle Parts (Used) Merchant Wholesalers 423140
Recyclable Material Wholesalers 423930

NAICS 423140 comprises establishments primarily engaged in the merchant wholesale distribution of used motor vehicle parts (except used tires and tubes) and establishments primarily engaged in dismantling motor vehicles for the purpose of selling the parts. (NAICS, 2002)

NAICS 423930 comprises establishments primarily engaged in the merchant wholesale distribution of automotive scrap, industrial scrap, and other recyclable materials. Included in this industry are auto wreckers primarily engaged in dismantling motor vehicles for the purpose of wholesaling scrap. (NAICS, 2002)

Automobile Salvage Yards in the Great Lakes States and Ontario, Canada

State/Province Number of Employees Number of Establishments
Illinois 5,164 439
Indiana 3,688 229
Michigan 3,782 313
Minnesota 1,645 161
New York 6,351 546
Ohio 6,151 490
Ontario No data available No data available
Pennsylvania 6,013 456
Wisconsin 2,711 184

Quick Facts

  • There are 103,108 people employed at 8,267 salvage yards in the United States with a total annual payroll of $3,302,669,000.

  • There are 35,505 people (34% of the national total) employed in 2,818 salvage yards (34% of the national total) in the Great Lakes states.

  • The total annual payroll of salvage yards in the Great Lakes Region is $1,251,873,000 (38% of the national total).


1997 NAICS and 1987 SIC Correspondence Tables [Online]. (1997). Available: [May 11, 2004].

County Business Patterns [Online]. (2000). Available: [May 11, 2004].

Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget. Standard Industrial Classification Manual. (1987). Springfield, VA: National Technical Information Service.

North American Industry Classification System [Online]. (2002). Available: [May 11, 2004].


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Auto Salvage-Great Lakes Region Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 8/2/2012