2009 Volume 50 Issue 4 Pages 703-710
This paper examines the traceability of resource movement across borders by quantifying the global flow of base metals (Fe, Al, Cu, Pb, and Zn) through the used passenger car trade in 2005 using trade statistics and vehicle composition data. An estimation method was developed to deal with the often problematic issues associated with trade statistics. This estimation shows that 3.4×106 metric tons of Fe, 3.1×105 metric tons of Al, 7.5×104 metric tons of Cu, 3.2×104 metric tons of Pb, and 2.7×104 metric tons of Zn in used passenger cars globally were not recycled in the country of origin, but rather moved in a global flow out of the country of manufacture. The destinations of these metals were mainly developing countries with rudimentary recycling technology. These results strongly indicate that in developed countries, many metal resources from automobiles that could have been utilized domestically were instead scattered and lost overseas.