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Working with Automakers and the Ontario Government to build a regulatory standard for recycling end-of-life vehicles (ELV) in Ontario

An open letter to the Auto Recycling industry in Ontario

Get Involved: help us build a cleaner, greener and stronger Automotive Recycling Industry for Ontario


Every year in Ontario about 640,000 passenger vehicles either reach the end of their useful life or are damaged in accidents beyond repair and are retired.

Unlike many other broken or worn out consumer products, end-of-life vehicles (ELV) have value. As a result, well over 95% of all ELV generated in Ontario annually are recovered for recycling and almost 85% of each ELV can be recycled by weight.

But not all automotive recycling in Ontario is the same.

Well run auto recycling businesses that practice sound ELV recycling serve an important role in Ontario – they recover resources, keep pollutants out of the environment and investment in the Province and create jobs in parts reuse and recycling.

Unfortunately, the “good guys” compete with operators who are recyclers only in name – operators that strip out valuable components out of ELV leaving pollutants such as mercury switches, lead weights, ozone depleting substances, lubricants and fuels in the hulks as they head for compaction and shredding.

This situation leaves Ontario’s more responsible automotive recyclers at a significant competitive disadvantage over operators that tow and strip cars with no environmental controls or management systems whatsoever.

The legacy of recyclers operating without environmental standards is uncontrolled pollution, contaminated lands and periodic fires at ELV recycling facilities.

The current situation is not good for either Ontario’s environment or for legitimate automotive recyclers that make an important contribution to Ontario’s economy.

OARA believes that the most effective way to address this issue is through a provincial regulation that will require any business receiving ELV for recycling in Ontario to operate to a common environmental management standard for “depolluting” and recycling ELV.

Such a standard will best serve to protect the environment, will professionalize and modernize the Ontario ELV recycling industry while at the same time create a level playing field for auto recyclers to further grow and invest as an important industry in Ontario.

Industry proposal for a regulated ELV recycling standard for Ontario

For the last three years OARA, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), the Global Automakers of Canada (GAC) have been advocating that the Ontario Ministry of Environment consider the Automotive Recyclers of Canada’s voluntary Canadian Auto Recyclers’ Environmental Code as the basis of a provincial regulatory ELV environmental management standard.

CAREC provides recyclers with the most relevant information and tools to prevent hazardous materials contained in end-of-life vehicles from contaminating the environment during and after the vehicle recycling process.

CAREC is a tried and true ELV environmental management standard that has evolved from The National Code of Practice for Automotive Recyclers (“Code of Practice”) that was developed in 2008 for recyclers participating in Retire Your Ride (the federally sponsored National Vehicle Recycling Program). In 2011, the Code of Practice was renamed the Canadian Auto Recyclers’ Environmental Code (CAREC) and its scope expanded to cover all end-of- life vehicles (and not only vehicles targeted by the Retire Your Ride program).

Over the last three years, OARA has consulted with the broader metals recycling industry (including the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries), public safety officials, environmental groups and Ontario municipalities about the need for a CAREC based province wide environmental management standard for ELV.

From these discussions there has emerged a strong consensus that there is a need for regulation of the ELV recycling sector and that it should be as simple as possible while being environmentally effective. It should be clear, straightforward and enforceable, produce verifiable environmental outcomes, and should minimize unnecessary administration and regulatory red tape to the recyclers that are going to be subject to regulation.

Regulatory proposal for an ELV environmental management standard for Ontario

Over 2012 and 2013 the Ontario Government undertook policy research and stakeholder meetings in response to OARA’s proposal for a regulated ELV environmental management standard for Ontario. OARA is anticipating that this work will translate into the Ontario Government conducting a broader consultation with affected parties in early 2014.

As a proponent of this regulation OARA, CVMA and GAC will make every effort to assist the Ontario Government to facilitate such a broader discussion.

In this regard, if you have any questions or comments about CAREC or OARA’s views regarding the need for a regulated ELV environmental management standard for Ontario please do not hesitate to contact me at 519-858-8761 or [email protected]/.

Thank you,

Steve Fletcher, Executive Director
Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA)