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Saturday, December 20, 2008

BERR expresses “real concern” over ELV disposal

BERR (UK Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform) has expressed "real concern" over the proper disposal of scrap vehicles following the sharp fall in metal prices and claimed that the producer responsibility system is now being seriously called into action for the first time.

Under the End of Life Vehicle Regulations, producers are responsible for helping to fund the recycling of scrap vehicles, and must join one of two network providers - Autogreen and Cartakeback - who provide a network of authorised treatment facilities (ATFs) offering free take-back of ELVs.

End-of-life vehicles can be returned free of charge to any authorised treatment facility within the producer-funded networks

While vehicle manufacturers have had an easy ride in recent years, with the high value of metals making take-back a profitable option for both ATFs and the last owners of vehicles, the sharp decline in metals prices is likely to see them playing a larger part in subsidising the service.
In a statement, BERR said the drop in metals prices meant "the proper disposal of scrap vehicles is once again becoming a real concern - particularly in remote rural areas of the UK."

And, economics and business minister Ian Pearson said: "We know the scrap metal market is experiencing difficulties at the moment and it's precisely for these sorts of circumstances that the ELV Regulations were designed."

"It doesn't matter what the value of a scrap car currently is - under the requirements of the Regulations, automotive manufacturers have established networks of convenient facilities where vehicles can be returned at no cost to the last owner. They will ensure the car or van is properly treated and at least 85 per cent of it is recycled and put to new uses," he added.

While the producer responsibility system for ELVs has been in place since January 2007, Mr Pearson described the current situation as the first time that the free take-back option had been "seriously called into action".

"It's now more important than ever that people are aware of this service so we can minimise the potentially damaging impact of fluctuating metal prices on local authorities, who have a duty to collect abandoned vehicles," he added.

His comments come after vehicle dismantlers expressed concern that the drop in metals prices could trigger a "dramatic" increase in the number of abandoned vehicles.
Under the ELV Regulations 'free take-back' guarantee, ATFs within the networks must provide a free collection service for last owners of vehicles who live more than 30 miles from their nearest facility.

ATFs are also expected to issue a Certificate of Destruction confirming that a vehicle has been destroyed and informing the DVLA that the last owner's licensing responsibility had ended.

Warning of “dramatic” increase in abandoned cars

Vehicle dismantlers have warned that the major falls in metal prices in recent weeks could trigger a 'dramatic' increase in the number of cars left abandoned in the streets, writes Nick Mann.

More vehicles are already being abandoned on the streets following recent falls in metal prices. And, the price falls have prompted concerns that some companies contracted to councils to collect ELVs on bahalf of councils will not be able to honour their agreements.

But, there was good news for some car dismantlers, as Autogreen - one of two networks of treatment facilities allowing vehicle manufacturers to meet their recycling obligations under the ELV Directive - revealed it would forgo the charges it levies on its member facilities for producing Certificates of Destruction and logging them on its system, to help them through the difficult predicament.

In a statement released to, Autogreen said: "In light of the current economic climate and to further support its members in achievement of the regulatory 85% recycling target for ELV's, Autogreen has took the decision to assist its members, by offering a zero cost route to data reporting and assisted compliance, for all vehicles handled by those facilities associated with Autogreen."

This means that, from November 1, there will be no charge for facilities when they issue a Certificate of Destruction (CoD) and enter it onto the network's on-line reporting system.

And, the organisation confirmed that this change would apply to the issuing of CoDs for all vehicles and not just those manufactured by one of its contracted brands.

Speaking to today about the issue of an increase in abandoned vehicles, Richard Reynolds, the national contract manager for London-based car recycling firm Redcorn said: "It could go back to the bad old days when you see vehicles abandoned on the streets"

He revealed that his company, which holds contracts to collect abandoned and nuisance vehicles for 12 local authorities, was "already getting calls from councils about cars being left in car-parks," and claimed that "just after Christmas you're going to see it beginning to pile up".

In the past, he explained that the high cost of metals would have meant that those abandoned vehicles would instead have been taken to unlicensed car dismantlers and scrap metal dealers.

Mr Reynolds' sentiments were echoed by Duncan Wemyss, the secretary of the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers' Association.

He said that, while the End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive meant there was free take-back for all cars recycled through registered treatment facilities, "one can fairly assume we could start seeing an increase in the number of abandoned vehicles".

The problem will come, and its probably there now, if the value we're able to get for the total metals from a vehicle comes down beyond the recovery cost of the work we do

Duncan Wemyss, MVDA
Mr Reynolds explained that the value of the ferrous metals contained within a car had fallen dramatically, from £120 earlier in the year to just £20 now, and added that "we anticipate that by Christmas it'll be zero per tonne".

He claimed that the fall in value could have a "catastrophic" effect on smaller dismantlers' operations, and in particular could jeopardise the contracts some dismantlers had signed with councils to collect and dispose of abandoned vehicles where, due to the high value of metals, they had agreed to pay the council to take them.

"If people have tendered to offer councils a certain amount of money for cars it could backfire," he said. "In particular if they're a one-man band and make all their money by taking cars to be dismantled.

"Some are going to have to go hand and glove back to councils and hand back the contracts."

Mr Reynolds added that, while some contractors would start to charge for collection and disposal of abandoned vehicles, "we're always in a position to be able to take vehicles off councils for zilch," but added that "we can't offer them money for them right now".

Mr Wemyss claimed that the critical point for vehicle recyclers would come when the value of non-ferrous metals and parts within cars also fell.

"The problem will come, and its probably there now, if the value we're able to get for the total metals from a vehicle comes down beyond the recovery cost of the work we do, that's where the fun starts," he said.

"Everybody looks at the ferrous price but we do regain value on catalytic converters and non-ferrous metals," he explained, adding that "its difficult to tell if that level's been breached," he added.

Spare parts
However, Mr Wemyss also explained that economic slowdown's effect on people's willingness to buy new cars could provide a plus point for car dismantlers in terms of spare parts sales.

"There's always the hope that people keep their cars longer and, in that sense, come to our sector for parts rather than buying them new," he said.

Mr Reynolds reported that Redcorn's "progressive" spare parts division was also providing a boost to the company's fortunes.

And, he added that the firm's other operations, such as its work for the DVLA with un-taxed vehicles, was compensating for the downturn in the value of metals from abandoned vehicles.

"If you're working for a council, the money you get back from doing work on fines balances out the cost of collecting abandoned vehicles," he said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Driving A Trend

When people think of innovative green companies, they may not immediately think of the automotive industry, but auto manufacturers have been designing with end-of-life in mind for decades.

“Cars have been recycled for a very long time,” notes Dan Adsit, manager of vehicle environmental engineering for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich. “We are very aware of what materials we use and how to bring them back at the end of a vehicle's life.”

Ford has strict requirements for recyclability in vehicle designs that starts at the drawing board and cascades across the development process. From using recycled materials in new vehicles and minimizing the use of restricted substances, to establishing processes and networks to dismantle, sort and repurpose up to 95 percent of any vehicle at the end of life, the auto industry has gotten end-of-life strategies down to a science.

And a big part of its success is industry members' willingness to collaborate with the competition.

“We believe that collaboration is the way to get things done,” says Claudia Duranceau senior research recycling engineer at Ford. “It allows us to be proactive, to work together to phase out materials, and to make sure we don't duplicate our efforts.”
Even in such a competitive market, all of the players in this industry agree that when it comes to end-of-life processes, there is more money to be made working together rather than apart. And the auto manufacturers benefit from being able to reclaim those materials for use in future vehicles.

“When we recycle cars, you can't tell where the material came from,” says Duranceau.

Ford works with the other major automotive players and regulators to help develop networks of dismantlers and to define processes for removing fluids, collecting and redistributing all of valuable materials, and shredding what remains for use as landfill covers to reduce dust and vermin.

Adsit notes that end-of-life dismantling services are privately-owned, not by auto manufacturers, but by independent entrepreneurs. Ford encourages these entrepreneurs and helps get them off the ground in order to build a stronger network and improve the efficiency of the material collection process.

“There is inherent value in any material, but you have to have enough quality in the same place to run an efficient recycling process,” Adsit points out. “In the automotive industry, we all have the same end-of-life issues with our products. When we all get together and pool our resources to deal with those materials, we get the biggest bang for our buck.”

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

China to establish auto recycling policy

In April 2008, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited an automobile recycling facility in Nagoya, Japan, and was surprised when he saw the highly developed industry of automotive recycling which is far ahead of that in China. On July 24, he announced that China will undertake reform of its existing auto recycling industry to build a modern recycling economy in the automotive industry.

In August, the Chinese Commercial Department held a meeting to consider measures for the development of the automobile (end-of-life-vehicle) recycling industry. Participants in the meeting were the National Development and Reform Commissions, Environment Protection Department, Industry and Commerce Department, Tax Office, China National Resources Recycling Association, major carmakers, and waste collection companies. Under this background, the China Nonferrous Metal News interviewed Mr. Jian Min Liu, Chairman of the China National Resources Recycling Association. He analyzed the issues for the existing auto recycling industry as follows:

"One of the barriers for the development of the industry is a lack of management capability on the part of the authorities," he said.

“Under the planned economy in the past in China, ELV recycling has been supervised and managed by two sectors. One is the resources collecting companies and the other is the sales cooperation system under the auspices of the Commercial Department. In the past, resources collecting companies had the right to distribute used steel and nonferrous materials and thus the two sectors have been opposed to each other. That disunity of management was still seen even after the country entered the market-driven economy. At present, the Construction Bureau of the Commercial Department manages the collection of ELVs, while the Environment and Resources Bureau of the Development and Reform Commissions monitors the remanufacture of auto-parts. And the Environment Protection Bureau joins the administrative work for that matter. In addition, the Information and Industrial Department and General Utilization Bureau were newly appointed as the management arms of ELVs. Will the disunity of management help development?"

Moreover, the Construction Bureau of the Commercial Department, which manages the collection of ELVs, is also responsible for the management of the new and used vehicle market. Today, a huge number of vehicles are already used across the country and 4 million ELVs are generated every year. It is necessary to build a strong and unified management to cover such a wide market. In order to develop the automobile recycling industry, we need to resolve the lack of management capability."

--China Nonferrous Metal News October 18 issue

The 1st Asian Automotive Environmental Forum held in Korea

The 1st Asian Automotive Environmental Forum was successfully held in Seoul, Korea, attended by about 15 representatives of carmakers, government organizations responsible for the environment, universities and automobile recyclers in China, Korea and Japan. The international forum ended with fruitful results through in-depth discussions, while it showed greater differences among the three countries, the Daily Automotive News Shinichi Aoyama reported.

Korea to raise recycling rate to 95% in 2015
Korea is currently seeing about 500,000 end-of-life-vehicles (ELVs) annually. That figure is expected to increase to 740,000 units in 2010. Under the automobile recycling law, the Korean authorities will raise the recycling rate from its original target of 85% for 2015 to 95%.

China eyes competitiveness in the global market
China has also been preparing for the launch of its automobile recycling law. Chinese representatives seem to have much interest in how strict automotive regulations which developed countries promote have an impact on the Chinese automotive industry, rather than tackling issues for processing ELVs in China. At present, China is focusing heavily on how to raise the competitiveness of its domestic industry in the world market. This is a similar situation to the move that Japan took in the early 1970s, when Japan made much effort to respond to the U.S. air pollution act so as to secure export business, at the same time it began to see issues for ELV processing at home.

China, Korea watch EU’s move in regard to environmental regulations
Both China and Korea are cautiously focusing on the environmental regulations taken by the EU. Japanese representatives made a report on the framework and current status of the Automobile Recycling Law which was introduced in 2005. The law, which focuses in a limited way on the processing of airbags, Freon gas and shredder dust (ASR), does not represent the standard rule in the world market.

Meanwhile, Japanese recycling technology has been developing. In recent years, many persons from China and Korea have visited Japan to see dismantling facilities and auto-parts recycling firms in Japan.

China questions about Japan and Korea about used car exports
In a panel discussion held on the first day, a Chinese representative asked if Japan and Korea aim to place responsibility for ELV processing on third countries by exporting used vehicles. A Korean representative answered, “It is a difficult issue but we need to resolve it by talking about it together.”

Everyone encounters the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in discussing issues for the environment.
The automotive recycling industry in Asia is coming to the point where they think about auto recycling on a global basis. Amid growing concerns of the environmental conser-
vation in the world, the three countries need to join forces as the center of the Asian market. The next forum is scheduled to take place in Japan in 2009.

--Daily Automotive News November 12, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Setting the Standard: Certification and standards programs will identify vehicle recyclers that consistently act in a responsible manner

The National Scrappage Program, announced in the 2007 budget and slowly coming to fruition, offers the recycling industry an opportunity to define the practices and procedures of a professional auto recycler.

As an element of the scrappage program, Environment Canada wants a Code of Practice to ensure that recyclers participating in the program meet a certain minimum standard.

The national industry association, Automotive Recyclers of Canada, has been instrumental in developing the Code of Practice. Executive director Steve Fletcher says it has been a challenge to develop a national code because most regulation of auto parts recyclers happens at a provincial or even municipal level. As such, the Code of Practice will focus on proper stewardship of waste by-products of the auto recycling process.

The Code will likely contain stipulations for handling and disposal of items such as antifreeze, batteries, fuel, oil, and CFCs. Fletcher also believes the Code will contain suggested best practices and educational material.

"This is an opportunity for the industry to gain something tangible and structural, that will last beyond the scrappage program," he says. "The Code of Practice helps us to quantify what we do."

Too few staff, vehicles
Of more day-to-day concern to the recycling industry is the shortage of available vehicles for parts inventory, and the difficulty of finding qualified employees. "Staffing is an enormous issue out west," says Fletcher. "They can't find enough competent staff."

Access to cars from which recyclers can salvage parts is also difficult right now. "Too much of the vehicle supply is leaking out through unlicensed buyers and the underground economy," he explains. "We try to get vehicles to come through the recycler stream, but...."

With the current high price of steel, recyclers are turning more toward selling scrap metal. "[Scrap] is much more of a business in our industry than it used to be. It's filling in the gap left by decreasing parts sales."

Fletcher is concerned, however, that a sustained drop in the price offered for scrap metal will cause a shakeout in the industry.

At the same time, recyclers are adapting to of selling on the internet., an online resource for finding recycled auto parts, now lists 100 million parts from 3100 recyclers in North America. About half of these body parts are graded with standard ARA part grading.

"We're thrilled that so many recyclers are now including part grading information with the inventory they upload. This will make it easier and faster for their customers to find the parts they need with accurate descriptions and clear information," says Jeff Schroder, president of

Likewise, the Code of Practice will make it easier to find a qualified recycler. However, the federal election could throw a wrench into the development of the Code by slowing down interactions between ARC and Environment Canada. Prior to the election call, the goal was to have the national scrappage program and the Code of Practice operating by Jan. 1, 2009.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Auto shredder residue recycling researched

Automobile recyclers have long wondered what to do with shredder residue, the leftover material that remains after shredding vehicles and recovering the metals.

If research that is underway at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois is commercialized, two potential options for the nation’s shredder residue would include turning foam into carpet padding and transforming the plastics into battery trays.

“Up to 60 percent of the residue can be recovered as usable materials,” said Bassam Jody, group leader of the energy systems division at the research lab.

With most of the shredder residue currently sent to landfills, the United States generates around 5 million tons of the leftover material annually, Jody estimates. About 30 percent of the material, by weight, is polymers and 10 percent is residual metals.

Argonne, funded by the United States Department of Energy, has spent around $5 million to develop the process to recycle the residue, Jody estimates. Although the basic concept was developed more than 15 years ago, the last 5 years have been used to develop a pilot plant to demonstrate that the recycling system works, Jody said.

“Based on this work, we are now preparing a full-scale process design and cost estimate as a possible next step in achieving commercialization of the technology.”

The separation system is a continuous dry process that separates the shredder residue – a mixture of polymers, wood, glass, residual metals, rocks, sand and dirt.

After removing any oversized material to protect the equipment, the residue is conveyed to a shredder to further reduce the size. The residue is then conveyed to a trommel to separate the bits and pieces. A magnetic separation chamber recovers the ferrous metals and an eddy current separator recovers the non-ferrous metals.

The resulting material contains more than 90 percent of the recycled polymers originally present in the shredder residue, Jody said. By weight, about 80 percent of this fraction is polymers and contains more than two dozen different types of polymers.

Since most of these polymers are not compatible with each other, the second part of the process uses a wet flotation system that separates the polymers by selectively floating or sinking the polymers.

Recycling the polymers and residual metals in the 5 million tons of shredder residue produced annually would save the equivalent of 24 million barrels of oil a year and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12 million tons, Jody estimates.

Some of the shredder residue still ends up in a landfill, however. After all the recyclables are recovered from the shredder residue during the process, the remaining material – including dirt, glass, sand and other in-organics – is sent to a landfill.

“Shredder residue is one of the leading problematic materials resulting from the recycling process,” said Charles Ossenkop, chair of the technical advisory committee for the Automotive Recyclers Association. The committee monitors recycling issues related to automotive design, material usage and recycling techniques for the trade group.

Ossenkop said the trade group’s committee plans to discuss the economics behind recovering shredder residue with researchers at Argonne within the next year.

The biggest hurdle for recycling shredder residue is the cost, Ossenkop said, noting it is often more expensive to recycle, transport and remanufacture recycled material. “Virgin material is cheap enough that it often doesn’t justify the cost,” he said.

Shredder residue goes beyond automotive recycling. David Wagger, director of environmental management at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc., estimates that 40 percent of shredder residue derives from end-of-life appliances, with the remaining 60 percent of residue coming from old vehicles.

While most of the shredder residue ends up in landfills, Wagger expects to see more uses for shredder residue in the future. He said it would provide additional value to shredder operations by reducing waste-disposal costs and increasing product sales.

The economics behind recycling shredder residue are more favorable in today’s market than in the past, said Paul Johansen, a technology marketing consultant with Johansen Marketing Consulting Ltd., in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Transportation costs have gone up, tipping fees at landfills have increased, and shredder operations do not have enough land to store the shredder residue, Johansen said. But he said the viability of any solution for shredder residue will vary by region.

“There are significant differences in distances to landfills, trucking costs and environmental regulations,” Johansen said, adding that there are often marketing challenges involved with introducing new technologies. “A good new technology can languish for years unless there is a good plan on how to commercialize it.”

by Brian R. Hook,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Time to license auto recyclers?

The best auto recyclers carefully remove any reusable parts, such as tires and wheels, for resale and drain any remaining fluids for safe disposal.

"A free-for-all."

"An abomination."

Strong words about an industry that's supposed to perform a beneficial service.

And they come from people within it.

They are car recyclers.

It isn't fresh news that there are problems and scams among those who dismantle and dispose of old or wrecked vehicles. What is astonishing is that solutions are as obvious as they are ignored.

There are good operators: Most belong to the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association and its national counterpart. But they are a small minority. The term "abomination" came from association member David Gold, of Scarborough's Standard Auto Wreckers. "Anyone can do anything, and everyone does do everything," he says.

Gold estimates careful businesses handle just 10 per cent of all end-of-life vehicles, or ELVs. That leaves plenty who don't do the job properly.

They buy cars, strip the most profitable bits, then send the rest for crushing without removing the battery, filters, mercury switch and the 40 or 50 litres of fluids each usually contains. The contaminants get into the environment, mainly into groundwater or, through sewers, into lakes and rivers. Mercury, which attacks the nervous system, can be released into the air if it's mixed with scrap steel in a blast furnace. Refrigerants escape to attack the ozone.

The Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association has its own code. But it's voluntary. The province inspects recyclers after complaints, but imposes no overall standards. While municipal approval is required to openly set up shop, there are no rules that each ELV and its contents must be accounted for.

Nothing prevents anyone from buying cars, dragging them to a warehouse and stripping them behind closed doors, before hauling the remnants to one of many crushers – who aren't required to ask questions, and don't.

"They're not licensed ... they don't have our expenses or responsibilities," says Jordan Waxman of Hollywood North Auto Parts. "If they're not licensed, they shouldn't be allowed to dismantle vehicles."

"If you've got a tow truck and a cellphone and can pay cash for cars, no one is really stopping you from that," says Steve Fletcher, the association's executive director. He's the one who described the situation as a free-for-all.

Licensing would go a long way to clean up the industry.

Most ELVs come from insurance auctions or car dealerships. These sources could be required to sell only to licensed recyclers who abide by strict standards.

It would also help to require cars to be officially deregistered before they're scrapped. Europe and Japan do that. To give their systems teeth, they impose a disposal fee when a car is bought. It's passed on to any buyer during the car's life and is refunded to the final owner.

The European Union has directed each member country to achieve 90 per cent recycling or reuse of cars by 2012. We don't need that kind of rule since, in terms of such numbers, cars are actually a recycling success here. Even illicit operators keep 75 to 80 per cent of a car's components out of landfills.

They just do it in a way that harms the environment.

The big mystery is why government won't crack down. Surely it isn't cowering before a powerful lobby representing environmental pirates. Does it fear insurance auctioneers, worried that licensing might reduce the number of bidders and depress their profits?

"We're looking to be regulated," Gold says. "What's holding government back?"

A very good question.


Auto wreckers scrap the old ways

Junkyards are dogged by greasy stereotypes, but that's changing in the age of recycling

Battered cars, far removed from their glittering showroom days, occupy most of the dirt yard behind the gaudily painted fence.

In a front corner, used tires – some on wheels, all with sizes scrawled in yellow marker – fill several racks.

Out back sit piles of crushed cars, eight high, flattened to less than a quarter of their original gleaming height.

A constant trickle of customers enters the office – a trailer with vintage 1960s dark brown panelling – to inquire about tires, mirrors, hoods and mufflers.

The scene and the odour of deeply embedded oil and grease suggest nothing has changed in the car-wrecking business. A junkyard is still a junkyard.

Not always true, says Jordan Waxman, who runs this yard, Hollywood North Auto Parts. In the east end of downtown Toronto, it's the latest version of a family company that has taken in unwanted vehicles for more than a century. Waxman is among a small group trying to change the industry.

Car recycling is virtually unregulated in most of North America. What happens to your vehicle when it reaches the end of its road, because of age or accident, depends on what kind of operation it goes to.

Almost everyone who takes in cars does the same basic things: Valuable parts are removed, the rest is sold for scrap. But some do the job carefully, in ways that make efficient use of the materials and protect the environment, while others make the biggest, quickest profit, and usually leave a mess.

"We're trying to get away from the image of the junkyard," says Michael Carcone, whose business is in Aurora. "We're a green company. We are recyclers."

Every year, about 1.2 million cars and light trucks are taken off the road across Canada, half in Ontario. They're known as end-of-life vehicles, or ELVs.

Car recyclers buy them through insurance company auctions or from dealerships, charities and individuals. The price ranges from $50 to thousands of dollars.

Once a recycler has obtained some cars, this is how they should be handled, according to the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association:

The best vehicles – quite often late-model insurance writeoffs – have their reusable parts carefully removed, cleaned and tested for resale. Computerized records are transforming this side of the business. Recyclers can offer or search for parts online. By carefully keeping track of how well various parts sell, they know which are worth the trouble of removing and cleaning.

Carcone knows, for example, that a 2002 Toyota Camry has 14 parts likely to be bought. They're removed right away. The rest of the car is stored for a few months in case someone calls for a component – anything from an oil pan to a CD player.

Most lower-quality cars are made available for backyard mechanics to pull off parts for themselves. Those in the worst shape go directly to the crusher. Eventually, that's the fate of almost every ELV.

First, though, batteries and gas tanks are removed. Good ones are resold. The rest go to companies that recycle or safely dispose of their components. Tires, too, either become second-hand items or are shredded for use as a fuel in incinerators or cement kilns. They're also made into building materials, road surfacing, mats and other products.

Any remaining gas, oil, antifreeze, windshield cleaner and other fluids – an average of 40 to 50 litres per car – is drained out and cleaned for use. Mercury switches, found only in pre-2004 models, are taken out so the dangerous metal can be recovered.

Crushed cars go to shredders that break them into tiny pieces. Magnets and other devices separate the component metals, which make up about 75 per cent of the vehicle. What's left behind – an assortment of plastics, cloth, rubber and broken glass – is known as fluff. Some of it can, in theory, be recycled, but for now, those in the industry say the markets are too small and prices too low for that. So most of it goes to landfill.

There's good and bad news on that front, says Steve Fletcher of the Recyclers Association. On one hand, increasing use of composite and sandwiched materials makes recycling more difficult. On the other hand, carmakers are trying to reduce the number of plastics they use and are developing materials made of hemp, flax and other organic materials.

Japanese manufacturers now collect plastic bumpers for recycling. They're also trying to figure out what to do with the increasing number of plastic gas tanks: A report from Honda concludes the best option might be to incinerate them, to produce heat and electricity.

Unfortunately, most ELVs are not handled properly, says David Gold of Standard Auto Wreckers in northeast Scarborough. Cars are now too valuable to be dumped in fields or along roadsides.

But unlike Europe and Japan, Ontario – and most of Canada, in fact – has no performance standards or regulations for the industry. There's just a voluntary code established by the association.

As a result, about 90 per cent of ELVs end up with operators who strip off the most valuable parts, such as copper from radiators and precious metals from catalytic converters, and crush the rest, without draining the fluids or removing batteries and other hazardous parts. So toxic materials spill onto the ground, where they can seep into the sewer system, and many valuable parts and materials are wasted.

How can you tell what will happen to your vehicle?

You can try to make sure it goes to an association-certified recycler. That isn't always easy, particularly if you leave it with the dealer where you buy your new car.

You can also take it to Car Heaven, a non-profit program managed in Ontario and several other provinces by the Clean Air Foundation. It offers a small tax receipt and ensures your ELV is carefully disposed of.

Unlike many legitimate recyclers, it doesn't allow engines, mufflers or pollution-control parts to be resold. Next year, it's to be expanded to a national program with bigger incentives.


Salvaging useful car parts

Don't call it a scrapyard. Or junkyard. Or boneyard. "It's a recycling yard, a recycling centre, a salvage yard," says Don Laniel firmly.

Laniel is general manager of the sprawling but pristine Sonshine Auto Parts just south of Cumberland Village. Spread over about 30 acres, Sonshine has 2,100 vehicles in stock, and they're anything but the canted hulks we think of when Arlo Guthrie sings about "the graveyards of rusted automobiles."

"We have a minimal number of vehicles older than 1996; we actually have some 2009s in here," says Laniel with pride. Sounding like a mortician describing the meticulous preparation of a corpse for viewing, he continues, "the gas tanks are removed and the fluids are all drained. We have a special area for the batteries, and we recycle the gas by using it in our own fleet. The oil and the Prestone and the CFCs are collected and picked up by a company for recycling."

Heck, the place is so squeaky clean that customers have compared it to a doctor's office. Speaking of doctors, there's even a small putting green out front.

With $4 to $5 million of inventory on hand, Sonshine sells parts – alternators, mirrors, entire engines – mostly to service stations and bigger shops. And thanks to the company's membership in auto parts recycling associations in Canada and the United States, those parts could wind up almost anywhere.

But there's still walk-in trade, says Laniel – DIY folks looking for anything from a taillight to a "red fender for a 2003 Ford F-150" that Sonshine's bells-and-whistles inventory system will immediately locate. Or not. Sometimes it has to be ordered from another recycler. But at a saving of 50 per cent compared to a new part, and with a warranty of 90 days, it can be well worth the wait.

Sales, Laniel says, follow the seasons. Air conditioning compressors are a hot item in the summer, while this time of year brings customers looking for rims and tires.

No matter what the season, "It's a blast here," says Laniel. "We've got five salesmen, and it's always interesting. You're never dealing with the same issues. I'm in here at seven in the morning and most nights I don’t get home ’til seven."

A self-employed body man by trade whose profession was taking its toll on his own body, Laniel was coaxed into joining Sonshine by Denis Desjardins, a long-time friend and owner of the recycling yard. In addition to overseeing 24 staff, Laniel journeys to car auctions and attends trade shows.

If you stop in at Sonshine, don’t expect to go stumping around the yard, wrenches in hand. A common site in the boneyards of earlier decades, that's now off-limits because of insurance and liability issues. Instead, Sonshine employees remove the parts.

And when there's nothing left to remove, it's time for the big squeeze. Sonshine's mighty crusher reduces the picked-over automobiles to a mere 24-inches high for shipment to one of several companies that grind the cars into small bits of metal. Those bits join the roughly 145 million tons of scrap produced every year in North America that re-enter the manufacturing cycle instead of plugging landfills.

With this sort of identification and utilization of every useful element, it's no wonder Laniel calls automotive recycling an "economic science."

Just don't call it a scrapyard.

by Patrick Langston, Orleans Star / Weekly Journal, Daily news from Orléans and East Ottawa

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP) Video

Watch a vide from the Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP), a pre-competitive coalition of auto manufacturers, and their perspectives on the North American auto recycling industry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help needed to meet EU car recovery targets: industry

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union's target to recover 95 percent of all materials used in cars by 2015 is achievable but will depend on new technologies and services, according to the car and scrap metal industries.
"At the moment 85 percent is more or less achievable, but going from 85 to 95 is a bit of a jump," one metals recycler said.

"It is all about having the technologies to recover the plastics and the rubber or use them as fuel," the recycler told Reuters recently.

The end-of-life vehicle (ELV) directive went into force in 2000 to deal with the 8-to-9 million tons of waste generated annually from scrapped cars in Europe.

By 2015, 85 percent of the materials in a scrapped car must be reusable or recycled and 95 percent of them must be recovered. This figure is up from a total recovery target of 85 percent in 2006.

Most metals, including copper, steel and lead -- which is found in car batteries -- have been recovered for some time.

It is materials like rubber and plastic that pose the recycling problem, and it has fallen to metal recyclers, who typically receive scrapped cars, to deal with it.

"The car manufacturers should be responsible (to reach the EU targets) -- but a lot of the responsibilities seem to have been passed onto our sector for meeting the targets," said Peter Brookes, director of United Kingdom-based recycler Metal and Waste Recycling Ltd.

"All vehicles end up coming to metal recycling yards for handling, de-pollution and then shredding ... and anything that cannot be recycled ends up in our waste stream."

Technologies to mechanically sort the plastics and other light materials out of the waste stream are not sufficient.

"The plastics recycling industry in the UK is mainly about plastic bottles ... so it isn't just a matter of getting the material out of the post-shredder stream -- it is a matter of finding a market for the material," the costs firmly with the metal recyclers," said Lindsay Millington, director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).

Brookes of Metal and Waste Recycling said it would help if car manufacturers developed a recycling route for the plastics and funded more research into how to best sort and recycle these materials.

Britain fell short of the 2006 medium-term target, getting

a reuse, recycling and recovery rate of 83.53 percent, up from an estimated rate of 81 percent in 2005, an industry source said.

"If the material was burned in a waste-to-energy power station we could recover the energy and that would count toward the target," Brookes said.

Currently, Britain has no waste-to-energy infrastructure to handle toxic car waste.

Many EU countries give subsidies to the recycling industry or have programs in which new automobile buyers must pay a contribution toward car recycling. However in the United Kingdom, the commercial market must deal with the recovery of material.

"The way the end-of-life vehicle directive has been implemented in the UK has left all the responsibility and all the costs firmly with the metal recyclers," said Lindsay Millington, director general of the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA).

Renault has changed some of its designs and materials to try to meet the recyclables target, but the French car manufacturer said it is not enough.

"We have introduced recyclable plastics in our cars, but it is not sufficient," said Jean-Philippe Hermine, responsible for implementation of the ELV directive at Renault.

"We have to help the recycler to develop plastics that can enter their processes," Hermine said.

by Anna Stablum, Reuters

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Green Yards scrap toxic liquids

This isn’t your parents’ salvage yard.

There aren’t any cars or trucks waiting to be stripped down or scalped for parts. The hundreds of cars out back are already bone dry, with letters and numbers scribbled on them detailing when they were drained and plugged.

Alongside are three giant concrete cylinders holding 55-gallon plastic drums containing oil and antifreeze.

Eric “Rick” Sojka, owner of Tiny’s Garage, runs one of the state’s 21 Green Yards, a term for auto salvage yards that meet higher standards regarding the storage and disposal of the toxic fluids sloshing inside cars and trucks that have reached their “end of life.”

“Green Yards is a change in the way you think, in the way you behave,” Sojka said. “There’s an idealism.”

Gone are the days when cars brimming with toxic liquids sat for months or years in a yard, untouched unless someone needed a fender or catalytic converter, as their gas tanks and oil pans rusted away and let the contents empty onto the ground, or maybe onto a sheet of cardboard.

Bad things can happen if those materials aren’t properly taken care of. There are several Superfund sites in southern New Hampshire at which wells were contaminated by industrial fluids that had seeped into groundwater.

Last month, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services issued a cease-and-desist order to ASAP Auto Salvage in Kingston, citing it for environmental violations, including dumping oil on the ground.

Fluids such as oil, gas and antifreeze aren’t the only concern from old cars. There are also transmission, power steering and brake fluids, and mercury in certain switches, along with other heavy metals such as chromium, zinc, copper, nickel, aluminum and arsenic. Plus, lead is in Anti Brake System sensors and batteries, wheel weights and battery cable ends. There are chlorofluorocarbons and Freon in air-conditioning systems, sodium azide in airbags and asbestos in brake shoes, according to a DES fact sheet.

All of them must be “evacuated” from each vehicle, stored and labeled, labeled, and labeled again, so they can be disposed of.

Although most salvage yards now drain and plug cars, Sojka wants to know what happens to the liquids after that. No one knows, unless they come from a Green Yard.

Here are some of the potential pollutants in “end of life” cars:

• Gasoline.
• Battery – lead and acid.
• Freon from air-conditioning units.
• Brake fluid.
• Transmission fluid.
• Oil.
• Windshield washer fluid.
• Power steering fluid.
• Differential fluid.
• Antifreeze.
• Heavy metals – mercury, chromium, zinc, copper, nickel, aluminum, arsenic, lead.

When the spent fluids are trucked out of a Green Yard, either by hazardous-waste disposal companies or licensed reusers of things such as motor oil, detailed records are kept to account for each ounce.

And the program works, Sojka said.

“You spill more in one accident than a Green Yard does in a year,” he said. “Green Yards are the future, the leading edge. Most people don’t realize what happens. We’ve been the unseen recyclers of the Earth.”

Close to 500,000 vehicles in New Hampshire are a decade old and will soon be recycled.

Cars and trucks are the most recycled products in the country, with 95 percent of them being scrapped, reused and recycled. About 10 million of them are recycled in North America annually. New Hampshire’s 150 salvage yards account for about 50,000 vehicles, according to a DES press release.

The DES Waste Programs Bureau has run Green Yards as a pilot program since 2002.

The salvage yards that enroll in the program follow all the state and federal regulations all yards are supposed to follow, but they also hold themselves to higher standards in terms of safety, the timeline by which a vehicle must be processed and the number of inspections state officials conduct, according to Sara Johnson, manager of the SES Pollution Prevention Program.

“They’ve gone above and beyond the call,” she said.

The Auto and Truck Recyclers of New Hampshire, an industry group for salvage yards, saw a need to improve fluid reclamation practices and contacted the DES to come up with ideas, Johnson said. Several sectors of DES got involved, and Green Yards were the result.

“Why? Because New Hampshire has groundwater,” she said. In fact, about 40 percent of the state’s residents get their water from the ground, as opposed to municipal water systems, she said, and many of the fluids in old cars can pollute those supplies.

“Salvage yards are very much an environmental issue,” Johnson said. A spill isn’t “just going to contaminate that property. It’s going to contaminate the neighbors’ property and move on from there.”

Sojka has been in the Green Yards program since it began and has worked with DES officials to help iron out what procedures work and which don’t.
“He is one of our best case studies,” Johnson said. “He really took the Green Yards to heart and made improvements really fast.”

Sojka said the standards are always evolving. The next revolution, he said, will be learning how to deal with hybrid vehicles as they reach their end of life.

“It’s very important,” he said. “Green Yards is the future for New Hampshire and for recycling. If it’s not going to a Green Yard, where is it going?”

By JOSEPH G. COTE, Staff Writer,

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

UK - ELV targets “will drive” post-shredder investment

An organisation set up to research ELV recovery and recycling has sought to allay fears that there may be a future lack of post-shredder capacity in the UK.

Post-shredder technology is needed to help reach European recycling and recovery targets for End of Life Vehicles

The Consortium for Automotive Recycling (CARE) - set up by car manufacturers and dismantlers - told on Friday that the EU's 95% target for ELV recycling and reuse by 2015 would drive the development of sufficient capacity to allow both independent and contracted treatment facilities to reach their recycling goals.
CARE chairman Peter Stokes said: "The 95% target will stimulate those post-shredder targets, the shredder doesn't discriminate between materials that are from one of the service provider's Authorised Treatment Facilities and those that aren't."

The comments come after Duncan Wemyss, secretary of the Motor Vehicle Dismantlers' Association warned that there was a Europe-wide lack of capacity for separating materials such as glass and plastics after the shredding process.

A lack of post-shredder capacity to allow the recycling and recovery of non-metals from ELVs could seriously hamper the UK's ability to reach the targets is has been set under the EU's ELV Directive.

UK vehicle manufacturers must achieve a 95% recycling and reuse rate for their own-brand ('own-marque') ELVs by 2015 as well as providing a network of ATFs offering free take-back of cars, dispensing their responsibilities via one of two service providers - Autogreen and Cartakeback.

However, as many as 940 of the UK's 1,200 ATFs are not contracted to one of those two service providers, but must still achieve a 95% recovery rate by 2015, and it was these facilities who Mr Wemyss suggested were facing difficulties in recycling significantly above the 75% of a car which is generally made of metal.

Earlier this year, BERR indicated that car manufacturers had met their 85% recycling target for 2006, but that non-contracted ATFs looked to have fallen short (see story), leading to the concerns over post-shredder capacity.

But, Mr Stokes, who is also Vehicle Compliance Manager at Volkswagen, explained that competition would ensure that vehicle shredders would provide sufficient post-shredder technology to allow independent ATFs to reach their targets, with those that didn't offer the services losing out on the smaller dismantlers' business.

"As uncontracted ATF's have a responsibility to hit 95% they will want to send their hulks to shredders which can help them hit their target, this is what will drive investment," he said.

Mr Stokes added that the post-shredder technology to allow the targets to be reached was available, pointing to Volkswagen's SiCon technology as having demonstrated that it was possible to recover 95% of a car.

The process recovers materials including hard plastic, rubber, textiles, glass and metal residues from ELVs to be reused in place of primary raw materials, with industrial plants that will use technology currently in planning stages.

Mr Stokes also commented on the large number of ELVs that are scrapped without passing through an ATF, a situation that has added to calls for the introduction of a mandatory Certificate of Destruction.

As uncontracted ATF's have a responsibility to hit 95% they will want to send their hulks to shredders which can help them hit their target, this is what will drive investment
Peter Stokes, CARE
Vehicle dismantlers that aren't registered as an ATF are able to obtain ELVs by getting their owners' to simply tick part of the V5 form on their car registration documents, marking it as scrapped without any further checks.

And, figures published by the DVLA last year indicated that, despite improvements, as many as half of cars scrapped in the UK in 2007 were dismantled without a Certificate being issued (see story).

Mr Stokes acknowledged that the V5 form "is the biggest issue we have at the moment", and explained that the main problem was a lack of "public awareness" of the need to use a registered dismantler and obtain a Certificate of Destruction.

He confirmed that "we are working with the DVLA" but explained that "there are some practical difficulties because the registration system is for more than cars and vans - for example scooters, bikes".

With those vehicles not subject to recovery targets, it could be argued that any mandatory Certificate of Destruction would be less relevant to them.

Mr Stokes suggested that a mandatory Certificate of Destruction to be combined with more government action to identify and eliminate unregistered dismantlers as representing the best route to ensure vehicles passed through the approved recovery system.

"If the Environment Agency were working harder to close those guys down, and they are working on it, that and the Certificate of Destruction would help to close that avenue down," he said.

But, he added that dismantlers and car owners would still find other ways to bypass the system, explaining that "you can't close all those loopholes down".

The low level of awareness among drivers of the need to take their ELV to a registered vehicle dismantler has been highlighted by, an initiative from metals recycler Sims Group which aims to provide drivers with the details of all ATFs that aren't contracted to one of the two service providers.

The scheme has claimed that drivers not using a licensed ATF are missing out on being paid roughly £50 per vehicle due to current metal prices, equivalent to £52 million a year in total.

Simon Palmer of said: "The fact that car owners can actually make a small profit by correctly recycling their old car is yet another reason for drivers to make sure they know how to dispose of their vehicle in line with the law."

He added: "As well as the financial reward, there is the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle has gone through the correct disposal process and you have been issued with the necessary paperwork."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Auto Recycling Video from the UK

Some of the language is a bit different but this video from the CARE (Consortium for Auto Recycling) group in the UK, highlights some of the future of auto recycling around the world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Use a reliable auto recycler

Earth suffers when job isn't done right

Cars have been a disposable commodity for so many decades that we hardly give a thought to what happens to them — unless they're in your neighbor's yard. To be sure that junk cars, known in the trade as End of Life Vehicles, are handled the way most of us want them to be, make sure you are dealing with a licensed auto recycler.

There are many licensed auto recyclers in New Hampshire who are protecting our environment and us as they dispose of nearly 50,000 cars each year. To do this, they carefully drain the motor oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, gasoline and Freon from each vehicle to be stored in separate tanks and recycled.

The batteries are removed and stored on wooden skids that are resting on concrete pads until they are sold and moved out. Catalytic converters are removed for sale to specialized recyclers, as are the radiators and heater cores.

Tires are removed and usually stored in a covered space about the size of a truck trailer until that is filled; then they are sold. No accumulation of tires to be potential insect breeding grounds or fire hazards.

Windows are removed and sold if they're in one piece or recycled if they are in pieces. What about the little light that comes on when you open the hood or trunk? That gets special attention because it contains mercury, a hazardous material.

The interiors are removed and, if possible, resold to customers near and far. Finally, after everything that can be salvaged has been claimed from the vehicle, the car is crushed and shipped to a shredding operation.

As you can see, dealing with a junked vehicle is a complex task that must be done by people who know what they are doing every step of the way.

There are many unlicensed operators who will take your junk car off your hands for nothing or, in some instances, even pay you for it. The big question for these people before you let go of your vehicle is: What do you do with all of the fluids from my car?

If you get just one weasel word, stop the deal because you know that the fluids are just going to be dumped someplace, the batteries and tires are likely to be tossed on the edge of his/her yard and nothing will be done about the mercury switches. You, too, have to be part of the responsible team disposing of a junk vehicle.

Go to to find a licensed auto recycler in your community. You call, they'll haul.

By Larry Twitchell, executive director of the Auto and Truck Recyclers Association of New Hampshire. He can be reached at 483-0117 or

Friday, June 06, 2008

National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program Launched-a Unique Collaboration

Canada's steel and auto industries are supporting and funding a national program designed to remove mercury-containing switches that were used in vehicles for convenience lights (under the hood or in the trunk) and anti-lock braking systems from end-of-life scrapped vehicles before they are flattened, shredded and recycled into new steel. This national program builds on the successful Switch Out initiative delivered by the Clean Air Foundation (CAF), a national not-for-profit organization. With this new funding, CAF will expand Switch Out to all provinces and territories in Canada, providing the infrastructure for the collection, removal and management of the mercury-containing switches as well as practical educational materials to recyclers across the country.

This program partnership is supported by Canadian automotive recyclers and dismantlers and their respective associations - the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI). The collaborative effort among the steel, auto and recycling/dismantling industries is unprecedented and is essential to the success of the program, which will assist the steel and auto industries to meet the new federal pollution prevention requirements regarding mercury-containing switches.

Mark Nantais, President of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association stated that "This program will ensure that the mercury-containing switches in end-of-life vehicles are properly removed and managed so mercury is captured and prevented from entering the environment. As of January 1, 2003 the use of mercury switches in new automobiles has been voluntarily and completely phased out."

Ron Watkins, President of the Canadian Steel Producers Association, added that "Removing mercury-containing switches from end-of-life vehicles represents the most effective way to reduce mercury releases to the environment. Canada's steel producers are committed to the continued success of the Switch Out program, and are pleased to be working with the auto industry and the Clean Air Foundation to expand it into a truly national program."

Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), said "ARC supports the establishment of a national vehicle mercury switch recovery program. We are committed to working in good faith as we have done in the past and even more now to ensure that the mercury switches from all scrap vehicles are removed." Leonard Shaw, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI), commented that "As stewards of our environment, CARI looks forward to applying our industry expertise to help develop the national Switch Out program."

Since 2001, Switch Out has engaged 448 auto recyclers to collect more than 160,000 mercury-containing convenience lighting switches across Canada. Ersilia Serafini, Executive Director of CAF, stated that "we are committed to delivering this national program and will build on our past success to ensure that the program achieves results. We look forward to working with the Canadian steel and auto industries, as well as engaging many more recyclers and dismantlers in this national program."

Canadian government to encourage older vehicles to be properly retired

Government to offer new incentives for Canadians who do their part

Ottawa, June 4, 2008 – Canada's Environment Minister, John Baird, today was joined by the Clean Air Foundation to launch a National Vehicle Scrappage Program, which will offer incentives to people who retire their 1995 or older model vehicles.

This program will be fully operating by January 2009, and will encourage people to scrap their gas-guzzling vehicles and to turn to environmentally-friendly transportations. The incentives include:
• Public transit passes;
• Bicycles;
• a rebate on the purchase of a new car;
• Membership in a car-sharing program; or
• $300 cash.

“We know Canadians want to do their part to help clean up the air we breathe and to and our Government shares their desire,” said Minister Baird. “That’s why we are launching a national program to get Canadian’s smog-causing gas-guzzlers off the road. This investment, combined with our Turning the Corner plan to cut air pollution from industry by up to 50 per cent, is what Canadians want and what we are delivering.”

The Government is providing $92 million over four years to implement the program, which will be delivered by the Clean Air Foundation – a national not-for-profit organization that runs the award-winning Car Heaven program.

“We are thrilled to be leading this program,” said Ersilia Serafini, Executive Director of the Clean Air Foundation. “Car Heaven is a leading program in Canada and we look forward to working with additional local programs to build on their experience and to enhance this network nationally even more.”

Of the 18 million cars and trucks on Canada’s roads, about five million were manufactured before 1996 (which is when new environmentally conscious standards were introduced). These pre-1996 models produce about 19 times more air pollutants than newer cars and trucks.

Until the program is fully up and running in January 2009, the Government of Canada is providing $3.4 million funding to local vehicle scrappage programs across the country.
This will encourage Canadians to take action now by rewarding them with incentives for retiring their old vehicles that will be part of the national program. These local scrappage programs will have an opportunity to become part of the Clean Air Foundation’s network for the delivery of the new national program in 2009.

As part of the Government’s commitment to high environmental standards, the program will also include a National Car Recycling Code of Practice. This tough code, currently being developed with the Automotive Recyclers of Canada will raise the standard of environmental care for vehicle recycling and apply to all participating recyclers.

The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and its provincial associations have partnered with the Clean Air Foundation over the years to help deliver vehicle scrappage programs. “We look forward to helping take this to a national scale through our network of local auto dismantlers and recyclers,” said Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of ARC. “Ensuring that the vehicles are properly and permanently retired is the expertise we bring to the national program.”

This initiative is part of the Government’s Turning the Corner action plan, which includes a commitment to reduce emissions from transportation sources and cut smog-forming industrial air pollution in half by 2015.

For information on the vehicle scrappage program, please consult the related Backgrounder or visit:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Surging prices spur scrap metal business

Few used cars appreciate in value from year to year, but junkers lately have proven an exception to that rule.
Growing international demand for steel and other metals has sent scrap markets soaring this year.

Brian Haluptzok, owner of Hi-Way 210 Auto Parts west of Carlton, said he’s paying up to three times what he did last year for salvage vehicles.

“A few years ago, I would pick them up for free. But last year, I started paying about $50 per vehicle,” he said. That would be a bargain price today. Haluptzok has paid as much as $200 for some high-value larger vehicles this year. Jerry Chesney, owner of Chesney Auto Salvage in Fredenberg Township, now pays anywhere from $50 to $200 per scrap vehicle, depending on size and condition. His current average is about $100 per vehicle.

And the higher prices have brought more vehicles to salvage/recycling operations this year.

“Every spring, we typically get busy. But this year, people are really cleaning up their yards,” Haluptzok said. “I think it took a little while for the public to realize prices had gone up so much.”

Dealers say competition for salvage vehicles has been intense at times.

Ryan Haluptzok, Brian’s cousin and owner of Classic Towing and Recovery, a Twin Ports business that has dealt in salvage vehicles for eight years, described the year as “astronomically crazy.”

“When the market rises like this, people come out of the woodwork,” Ryan Haluptzok said. He began to notice a surge in small independent operators late last year.

Some of the newcomers essentially have been backyard operations operating under the radar of regulators, said Jennifer Worth, co-owner of WE Recycle of Ashland.

Automotive recycling facilities should be licensed by the Department of Transportation, and Department of Natural Resources permits are required for businesses that dismantle vehicles, she said.

“Basically, we recycle everything, but we’re required to have the proper equipment and systems in place to handle things like freon, oil, fuel and mercury switches. If no one is watching these backyard operations, we need to be concerned about where all this stuff is ending up,” Worth said.

She noted that unlicensed scrappers don’t bear the expense of permits and other overhead costs that legitimate businesses do, giving them lower costs and the ability to bid up prices for defunct vehicles.

“We’ve seen a big spike in complaints about unlicensed operations since the market started to heat up,” said Mark Harings, an auto and salvage sector specialist for the Wisconsin DNR.

Jim Anderson, a fraud investigator for the dealer section of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said his office also has received more complaints this year. But he said that enforcement has been a challenge.

“Someone puts a classified ad in the paper — ‘Will pick up scrap for cash’ — and they can come and be gone in a heartbeat,” Anderson said, noting that many of the best tips his office receives come from licensed salvage operators. “To a large extent, we rely on the attentiveness of others to help us,” he said.

Michael Wilson, executive vice president of the Automotive Recyclers Association said he’s not surprised to see opportunists entering the scrap business.

“It has been a real active market because the price of scrap has doubled since November,” he said. “There’s been a sort of gold rush.”

“We’ve never seen prices like this before,” said Bob Garino, director of commodities for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. If developing nations continue to grow at the current pace, he predicts scrap prices could go even higher.

Brazil, Russia, India and China have demonstrated a voracious appetite for scrap metal, he said. He identified Turkey, Dubai, Korea and Taiwan as other large consumers of scrap.

“As these countries develop, they need things like iron, steel, copper and aluminum. They’re also looking for the cheapest material they can find, and that’s scrap,” he said. The United States is a natural source of this scrap metal, Garino said, as it offers an unparalleled supply, from the standpoint of both quantity and quality.

Duluth News Tribune - Duluth,MN,USA

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ticking the Box

It was supposed to put recycling at the forefront of new car design. It was meant to make scrap yards separate harmful substances and recycle more material from cars that had reached the end of their lives. And it was billed as the solution to Britain's illegal dumping problem.

Yet five years after the End of Life Vehicle Regulation came into force, the government has no idea if these aims have been realised. That's because more than half of Britain's two million scrap cars are going missing, thanks to a loophole in DVLA records and a recycling sector that is poorly policed by the Environment Agency.

According to BERR records, around 685,000 Certificates of Destruction (CoDs) were issued in 2006, the first year in which data was collected. A further 215,000 Notices of Destruction (NODs) were sent to DVLA, meaning 900,000 cars were treated under the new rules.

That means up to 1.1 million cars have vanished from the radar. No one knows how many of these have been dumped complete with tyres, oils and with un-deployed airbags intact.

Government is concerned; car makers and the recycling industries are angry.

Seven years ago, it was a more visible problem. With scrap metal prices in the doldrums, illegal car dumping was at its height. Government estimates put the number of burnt-out and abandoned cars at 340,000 cars every year. The Regulation would end this national eyesore, we were told.

Across Europe similar end-of-life rules were implemented, with the same aims; to deliver a reduction in pollution - cars would have to be 85 per cent recyclable by 2006 - and to send less harmful waste to landfill.

Manufacturers were dragged kicking and screaming into a brave new world of partnership with the scrap sector. It was to be an era in which the polluter paid for recycling their products, not the end user, and where scrap yards would be regulated and licensed. Predictably, car makers warned of a huge cost burden.

Consumers would play their part too. Under continuous licensing principles, only a Certificate of Destruction would end the obligation to pay road tax, forcing owners to licensed treatment facilities where de-pollution and recycling would take place.
That was the theory. Only, the system has proved as watertight as a hole-filled bucket because owners don't need a CoD.

Alongside, dismantlers, scrap yards and shredders, they can simply de-register their car by ticking a box on the V5 form and returning it to DVLA. Valuable metals like steel and aluminium can then be plundered, without any come-back for them or the last owner.

This anomaly was raised with DVLA in an angry letter by motor trade bodies and the recycling industry as long ago as December 2006. DVLA responded saying that a review was 'under consideration'. Presumably it still is because in 2008 the tick boxes remain.

Like car makers, dismantlers and shredders are irritated. Scrap car traffic is far lower than they were led to believe and many are struggling to justify the investment to upgrade their facilities. Some share concerns privately held by BERR that the Environment Agency has been unwilling to police an industry it was so anxious to regulate at the turn of the millennium.

Meanwhile scrap prices remain high and the profile of the problem low. Dumped cars are quickly snapped up by those for whom the insatiable appetites of China and India presents an opportunity. Were scrap metal prices to plummet - always a long-term possibility - towns and countryside could once again be blighted with burnt-out cars.

The good news is that completing the end-of-life circle would be easy were DVLA to remove the offending tick box on V5 forms. Customers could be forced to used licensed Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs), driving more traffic and encouraging more dismantlers and shredders to invest in the necessary infrastructure to compete.

There would also be less pollution, more recycling and more accountability to government. Which was surely the point of the legislation in the first place.

Clean Green Cars

Friday, May 09, 2008

Economy drives increase in totaled vehicles, cut in auto recyclers' inventory

Economic pressures have converged on the automotive industry to create a condition that's difficult to swallow for many recyclers and collision repairers. Expensive vehicle technology, an increasing number of foreign repairers, and the rising cost of scrap metal add up to more totaled vehicles, said John Fischl, a longtime automotive recycler in Phoenix and a participant in the United Recyclers Group (URG) and Premium Recycled Parts (PRP).

Those market conditions have prompted insurance companies to total many more vehicles, Fischl said. What collision repair shop owners may not recognize, however, is the reverberating effect those totals have on their business.

"What's disturbing is that most shop owners don't realize that the total-loss situation has created a counterculture of underground repairers," Fischl said, adding that vehicles totaled in the United States are being exported to places in Europe, Asia, and Latin America for cheap repairs.

As totals continue to leave the United States, that means less work for legitimate collision repairers and less inventory for recyclers wholesaling parts, Fischl said, adding that acquiring inventory for his yard, Riteway Auto Parts, is becoming increasingly difficult.

That trend results in even more totals because of a lack of available used parts, forcing estimators to write repair orders with higher-priced OEM or aftermarket parts, he said, causing many repairable vehicles to be totaled, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Competition at the auction
Insurers look to recoup money from total losses at salvage auctions, where automotive recyclers are seeing increased bidding competition from the public and international black- market repairers, Fischl said. In the past, recyclers acquired inventory at local auctions, reviewing hundreds of totals, with approximately 25 percent of them being repairable, he said.
Today competition is fierce, he said, and that percentage is far greater. "Recyclers today are previewing thousands of vehicles at auctions in many states to get the inventory they need to survive.

"We're having difficulty getting cars for inventory, which reduces the supply of good reusable parts," Fischl said. "For the collision repairer, there's risk with sending a repairable vehicle to the (salvage) pool." That sale of a repairable vehicle to a rebuilder or exporter creates greater demand for additional total-loss vehicles, driving their price up, he said.

"You're empowering the competition to cause the next total," he said, because those vehicles are being repaired at 50 percent the cost of the original estimate, they're sold at a profit.

The rebuilder or exporter returns to the auction the next week, ready to buy more repairables, causing the price of totals to continue to rise, Fischl said. "As the total loss threshold drops, the collision repairers lose more repairable vehicles to the salvage pool."

Keeping valuable components salable
"We as an industry cannot stand by and watch components be legislated out of the repair market," said Sandy Blalock, president of the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) and owner of Capo's Truck & Auto Parts in Albuquerque. "We're constantly vigilant on keeping pace with the industry."

For example, Blalock pointed to the federally mandated testing required to resell used catalytic converters as an example of legislation that negatively affects recyclers. Current market prices for precious metals, such as the platinum found in catalytic converters, have offset this, however, she added.

A salable item in many totaled vehicles is nondeployed airbags, Blalock said, asserting that they're just as safe as new OEM airbags.

ARA's nondeployed airbag protocol
Jeff Kantor, ARA's chairman of the nondeployed airbag committee and owner of CarWorld Used Parts in Candia, N.H., has been instrumental in developing a nondeployed OEM airbag protocol that resulted in a program now run by Airbag Resources. The inspection and training program for recyclers who resell airbags operates under ARA Product Services LLC, he said.

The accepted use of nondeployed OEM airbags could keep a lot of otherwise totaled vehicles in collision repair facilities, Blalock said, adding that the price difference between nondeployed airbags and new ones can be anywhere from 40 to 80 percent. Since insurers and OEMs do not accept the use of nondeployed airbags, she said, they're mainly being sold to rebuilders.

"There has never been a report of a nondeployed airbag sold in the industry that's had a failure," she said, adding that airbag systems in vehicles have a self-diagnostic capability that catches problems.

ARA Product Service's Web site gives recyclers access to software applications, airbag training, access to hazardous-materials certification, and airbag inspection, Kantor said.

The Web site contains an airbag recall check database, Blalock said. "A user can input the VIN in the database to make sure there are no problems with the airbag before it goes into commerce," she said. "It also assures the customer that they're getting the exact match for their vehicle."

Kantor said the protocol covers the airbags sold by ARA airbag protocol trained and certified recyclers, which are branded with the ARAPro logo, assuring repairers that the airbag they purchased meets the standards required by the ARA protocol. He pointed out that the protocol does not cover wires, the airbag computer, or connectors.

Greater profits, reduced cycle time
"Collision repair shops sell two things--parts and labor," says Jerry Cathcart, general manager of Autoworks International in Thornton, Colo. "To truly understand where money is being made, you have to know where it's coming from," he said.

Instead of simply looking at the gross profit margin on a repair, Cathcart said he narrows profitability down to the gross profit margin on parts and the type of parts used. It's this knowledge, he said, that inclines him to use aftermarket and recycled parts in each repair.

Cathcart said his gross profit margin on recycled parts for the first quarter of 2008 was between 26.5 and 27 percent, up to 5 percent more profit than OEM parts. In addition, he said he uses recycled parts to reduce cycle times since the delivery service by local and regional recyclers is quick. "You can get parts the next day," he said, adding that they usually come with extra parts, such as a door with a good lock rod and run channel.

April People & Parts

Northwest recyclers doing good job in their battle for compliance, officials say

Seattle-Automotive recyclers and dismantlers throughout the Northwest region have, by industry and government standards, become exceedingly more professional in their recycling operations as well as more environmentally friendly in recent years, observers say.

Local, state, and federal regulations in the past 10 years have raised the bar, forcing many recyclers to alter their internal methods of handling automotive dismantling, and most firms today are seen to be in compliance with environmental issues. Much of that credit is given to state trade associations as well as the national Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA).

In Washington state, for example, the Department of Ecology (DOE) has acknowledged the Automotive Recyclers of Washington (AROW) for its efforts that have resulted in the collection of 45,000 light switches that contain toxic mercury.

"Washington was one of the first states in the nation to establish a program to remove toxic mercury light switches from salvaged vehicles, and it's an important effort in our overall strategy for keeping mercury out of the environment," said Darin Rice, who manages DOE's hazardous waste and toxics reduction program.

The Washington program began in June 2006 in an agreement with AROW and the End-of-Life Vehicle Solutions group, an organization of automakers that at one time used mercury switches.

Gary Smith of the Independent Business Association, whose group works closely with AROW, said the program has been a major recovery process and that the effort has earned AROW special recognition from DOE for establishing the nation's fifth-highest recovery state for mercury switches.

"The mercury switch collection program is an outstanding example of a win-win industry and government partnership," said Don Phelps, president of AROW and a Kent auto recycler.

In Oregon, the Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA) has been a leader in urging its members, including recyclers, to collect switches.

"NATA and ARA have placed a lot of focus on collecting mercury switches in our state," said Mary Ann Trout of Hillsboro Auto Wrecking, an activist in recycling and environmental issues.

Trout said recyclers in Oregon who participate in the collection program place the switches in a container provided by ARA and return it to a predetermined point with a provided UPS return label.

Maintaining clean operations at recycling facilities has been a major issue in recent years for a variety of local and state agencies, especially those that regulate water systems. Storm drain restrictions and regulations have become more stringent, and Smith said that new stormwater permits will be required in Washington, a rule that directly effects recyclers.

In Oregon, Trout said new storm drain regulations require testing four times a year and that new permits are required every four years. She said recyclers have to send their quarterly water tests to a lab, keep the reports from the lab on file, and send the results to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) each July.

Trout also said that scrap-metal issues are being reviewed in Oregon with the construction industry and other fields to determine if stolen metals and copper are being sold illegally to metal recyclers. "Because of the term 'metal,' the state is looking at auto recyclers for possible regulation."

Smith also said that AROW and recyclers need to be aware of the common problem areas found in visits by ECOSS (Environmental Council of South Seattle). ECOSS looks at environmental and economic issues facing businesses.

With complex issues facing recyclers, Smith said that AROW and DOE have workshops planned to review many of the needs and regulations that recyclers and dismantlers will encounter.

April Parts & People

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Recyclers raise the bar

A national Code of Practice will establish minimum standards for auto recyclers and level the playing field in favor of environmentally-responsible operators.

Prompted by the federal government’s National Vehicle Scrappage Program announcement, the national association of automotive recyclers is developing a voluntary Code of Practice. This document will outline the minimum standards for compliance and best practices for recycling end-of-life vehicles.

Generally in the recycling sector, licensing is the purview of the municipality and there is little enforcement of municipal by-laws. What’s more, there is varying interpretation of provincial environmental regulations, all of which creates an uneven playing field for respectable businesses.

In addition, explains, Steve Fletcher of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), “the laws are silent on some of the materials we handle like mercury switches.”

“The Code of Practice helps to bring some structure to our industry. For us, it will be a guidebook for recyclers to build their businesses around best practices,” he comments.

The impetus for the national Code of Practice is the federal government’s promise to develop a program to encourage Canadians to get their old vehicles (pre-1995) off the road. In the 2007 federal budget, a national vehicle scrappage program was announced. Six million dollars was allocated for infrastructure, and another $30 million promised for incentives to get Canadians to scrap their old vehicles. The scrappage program will likely be based on Car Heaven, a voluntary program which encourages Canadians to donate old vehicles for recycling in exchange for incentives.

To accompany the national scrappage program, Environment Canada requested that the industry develop a Code of Practice to ensure consistent practices across Canada for this initiative. The Code will also ensure vehicles are retired in an environmentally responsible manner.

The Code of Practice will establish the requirements to participate in the scrappage program.

“We will end up with a national document that allows the provincial associations to take it back to their governments as a model,” says Fletcher.

British Columbia is currently implementing regulations for its recycling industry. The new rules stipulate that a recycling facility or an association must have an environmental management plan in place by Sept. 2008. The plan describes how waste is removed, stored, treated, or disposed. Facilities must register with the governing body and must be report their compliance every 2 years.

One benefit of the British Columbia document, says Fletcher, is that it helps various government departments to understand the industry better, and it minimizes varying interpretations of laws as they apply to recycling.

It is expected that the vehicle scrappage program and the Code of Practice will create a registry of sorts, as recyclers sign up to be part of the program.

Fletcher says the industry welcomes both the scrappage program and the Code of Practice. “For the most part, our members are already doing this stuff. For those outside the association or even those within who aren’t, we’re hoping there’s a regulatory burden put on them. There’s a really un-level playing field out there right now.”

Cindy MacDonald, April Bodyshop Magazine

Stewards of the environment

The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) is an umbrella organization of six provincial associations, plus SGI Salvage, that represents approximately 425 professional auto recyclers across Canada. Initially formed as a group to share ideas among recyclers, ARC has also taken on a number of exciting national and even international projects:

Car Heaven
Car Heaven operates as a quasi-national vehicle retirement program managed by the Clean Air Foundation in conjunction with ARC and several of the provincial associations. The program provides vehicles for members to dismantle and sell parts from -- which is the mainstay of any modern auto recycling operation. The federal government has announced $36 million in funding to establish a National Vehicle Scrappage Program, which will either use Car Heaven as the medium, or use the learning generated by Car Heaven's successful eight-year history. Either way, professional auto recyclers have been identified as the only logical infrastructure for a successful program. In addition, Environment Canada is funding a proposal to develop a National Code of Practice to support Vehicle Scrappage that, while a voluntary initiative, should go a long way in bringing much-needed structure to our industry.

Mercury Switch Out
ARC also works with the Clean Air Foundation on its Mercury Switch Out Program. This initiative removes the mercury pellet in convenience light switches before a vehicle is crushed and released to the environment. Environment Canada has published a Notice under the Canadian Environment Protection Act making it mandatory for auto manufacturers, who created the problem in the first place, and steel producers, who release the mercury when they melt the scrap from cars, to prepare pollution prevention plans that include funding a national program to remove switches before crushing. We are in the final stages of discussions to make Switch Out a fully funded multi-year national program.

International Relations
ARC has successfully completed negotiations with the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) to cooperate on areas of mutual interest. ARA is at the forefront of creating a wide variety of internationally recognized standards for the industry, including standards for damage location and description, and airbag handling. These standards have been openly adopted by ARC and many of its members. In addition ARC, along with ARA and our colleagues in Europe, Japan, and Australia, have conducted three successful International Roundtables on Auto Recycling (IRT), aimed at sharing information and resources on a global basis.

February Bodyshop Magazine

Monday, April 28, 2008

Solving the Recycling Puzzle

I'm not too old to fondly remember the hours I spent in my teenage years trudging around the local "junkyard" in search of the perfect parts to keep my '65 Pontiac Grand Prix running and looking good. It was fun looking through all those rows of cars and letting my imagination run wild as I wondered how those cars got there. I could see the unpolished diamond in all of them.

Imagination aside, I was there, rolling on the ground taking cars apart, because used parts were less expensive than new ones. I bought what I could afford. I didn't care that the parts weren't new, as long as they were in good condition. This simple scenario sums up why insurance providers want you, as a collision repair professional, to write for and use salvage (or in the vernacular created by the Automotive Recyclers Association [ARA] recyclable) parts as part of your normal repair methodology. It's common sense. It's also good for the environment. Using these parts is sound fiscal policy for all of us as consumers and policyholders. Having said that, are you aware of all that goes into effectively using these parts?

There are several areas of concern every time you consider using a recyclable part over a new part, whether it be OEM or aftermarket. In no particular order, these are:

condition/age of the vehicle you are repairing;
condition of the recyclable replacement part;
location of the recyclable replacement part;
integrity of the recycled parts vendor; and
cost effectiveness of using recyclable parts.

Let's examine each.

The recycling option
The first step in using salvaged parts is determining if a damaged component is repairable or if a replacement is warranted. Our assumption here is that the component is beyond repair and needs to be replaced. As far as I'm aware, all of the collision estimating programs available commercially today have the ability to perform a cost analysis regarding repair versus replacement.

These systems cannot perform this analysis with regard to a recyclable part at this time, so this determination has to be done manually by the user. We have to determine if a replacement is warranted in this particular scenario.

Considering using a recycled part?
You will need to collect information not yet available from your estimating system. One consideration here is the condition of the vehicle being repaired. For the most part, you probably would not consider using recyclable parts in a repair on a brand-new vehicle. Not only would it be extremely difficult to find a recyclable part in this instance, most direct repair agreements call for the use of brand-new OEM parts for a specific time period or mileage plateau on a vehicle. In some cases, a recycled part might do if a newer vehicle is in poor condition (while a new part might be preferable on an older vehicle kept in pristine shape). Use your best judgment when making this determination. Always follow your DRP guidelines and local laws before determining what type of parts need to be used in the repairs you are performing. Some states have laws that allow vehicle owners to make the final decision regarding the type of repair parts used on their vehicles. If this is the case for your location, make sure you are aware of the owner's wishes.

Determining cost effectiveness
Once you have determined that a recyclable part can be used, you must determine if it is cost effective. The first step here is to locate the recyclable part. The logistics of procuring the part have to play into your decision regarding its use.

A complete bumper assembly arrives. Before placing an order for a recycled part, check with the vendor for return policies and ask that hi-resolution photos of the part be e-mailed to you. For example, say you find through phone calls, Internet searches and estimating database searches, four of the same parts needed for your repair. One is local, and the other three range from 25 to 100 miles from your shop. The part you found locally is the most expensive on your list.

The other three suppliers will ship the part to you, which means you'll incur shipping costs. Two of the sellers want to charge your credit card up front since you don't have a relationship with them.

On top of these considerations, you also have to ask these questions: What if the part is in poor condition when you receive it, and the vendor won't take it back? Is the vehicle owner using a rental car? Would it be cheaper to get the part faster than pay additional rental?

Note how these parts have arrived in good condition and properly packed. Be sure to work out any shipping questions or problems with your recycled parts vendor. My suggestion here is simple. Determine if the parts are equal in grade and quality. Ask the vendors to e-mail you clear photos of the parts. It's possible the three vendors farthest away from your shop have lower graded parts than your local supplier, which would make your local vendor a wiser choice. You also should ask vendors about their return policies.

Lastly, call your DRP partner or customer and enlist their help in making this decision. It will make more sense to order the part locally if the cost is less when working in factors such as part condition, shipping and vehicle rental costs. In most cases, your DRP partner will agree with these decisions if you discuss them prior to placing the order. Clear, concise and timely communication is the key.

Communication: Using ARA grading system
Communication is, without question, the most important aspect of effectively using recyclable parts. Traditionally, repairers and recyclers haven't seen eye to eye on some of the most important aspects of utilizing recyclable parts. These aspects include realistic grading of the condition of the part and the amount of damage on a part. These issues have been long discussed at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC). The ARA has produced a universal grading system that can clear up some of the miscommunication.

At the CIC conference in October 2007, the parts committee discussed the grading system at length in an attempt to inform repairers, insurers and recyclers. The ARA guidelines help standardize parts conditions through a parts description code. The parts code includes these basic important facts about the part: part name; three-character part code; and part description line.

With this code, a repairer should be able to get a clear description of the part, including the amount and type of any existing damage (in units and not repair hours) and the location of the damage. A unit corresponds to a damage area roughly the size of a credit card. Once the recycler determines the units of damage on a particular part, it grades the part with an A, B or C.

An A grade part has one unit or less of damage. B grades have more than one unit and up to two units. Any part with more than two units is a C grade.

The different types of damage are described by simple one-letter codes, for example:

B = Burn
D = Dent
F = Finish
H = Hail
J = Rip/Crack
P = Parking Lot Dings
R = Rust
S = Scratch/Surface
* = Not Specified
Use the standard ARA damage locater as your starting point. If you do not have a copy of this document, you can obtain one through the ARA Web site.

Let's assume you just priced a door from a local supplier. The parts description code on the door reads as follows: Left front door shell 4P1 A grade.

Translation: The left front door shell is an A grade part, with four parking lot dings, covering one unit of damage.

If you do not receive a part as advertised, notify the recycler immediately and voice your complaints.

Study and have your staff study and understand the ARA guidelines. The ARA has a Web site dedicated to this training:

If repairing, returning or reordering the recyclable part will delay the repair process, inform your customer and DRP partner right away.

Choosing a vendor
Choosing a quality vendor to partner with is extremely important. Do not align yourself with a vendor strictly on the basis of pricing. A reputable vendor sometimes can help you get a quality recyclable part with less damage more quickly than an OE vendor could send you a new one.

Once a relationship is established, vendors often go to great lengths to find parts, even those they don't stock. More than likely, they also will price match with competitors.

You play an important part in the success or failure of this relationship. Pay your bill on time. Be reasonable with your repair labor times (labor units). Be clear on the type of part you need when ordering. Offer to send photos of hard-to-describe parts.

To find a good recyclable parts vendor, start by asking your peers. Check with industry organization Web sites and insurance company appraisers. The ARA Web site offers a members link that lists all recyclers registered as ARA members. Call the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and ask about service issues with potential vendors.

When you order a part, track the "cycle time" of the order. Document that time, and compile a record that you can share with a vendor. Measure the performance of your vendors, and discuss it with them in regular meetings. Be proactive with problems. Admit when your staff makes an ordering mistake.

Conclusion: Communication is key
I can't stress this point enough. Communication resolves many issues. Effective communication requires effort from everyone involved. There are significant rewards you will see. Bottom line: If you develop a solid relationship with a great vendor you won't have to worry about salvaging your future or your customers.