The steel industry recovered 14.2 million tons of steel from scrapped cars last year, the most ever, according to the Steel Recycling Institute. However, because older cars last longer and production of new cars hit a record, the percentage of scrap recovered to steel used in new vehicles actually declined. The percentage last year was 91.2% compared to 92% in 1998. The percentage has been declining annually since 1996, when recovered steel was 97.9% of the amount of new steel used in vehicles. A spokesman for the institute says that despite the declining percentages, virtually every car taken off the road is recycled.