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Friday, November 27, 2009

Greenway ELV Processing

A green auto recycling video demonstrating one company's commitment to the environment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Environmental Stewards - Auto Recyclers

Automotive recycling serves a vital role in preserving natural resources and reducing the demand for scarce landfill space. In addition to conserving natural resources, automotive recycling plays an important role in reducing air and water pollution and solid waste generation.

Automotive recyclers must abide by stringent local and national regulations on dealing with waste generated by salvaged automobiles. Many individual automotive recycling companies also have instituted their own unique programs to further reduce the potential effects of harmful materials to their businesses, employees and the environment.

The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), Fairfax, Va., has represented the business and environmental interests of the auto recycling industry since 1943. ARA encourages aggressive environmental management programs to assist member facilities in maintaining proper management techniques for fluid and solid waste materials generated from the disposal of motor vehicles. These programs include ARA’s Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) program, which certifies that participating automotive recycling facilities meet specified general business, environmental, safety, licensing and regulatory standards. ARA’s Gold Seal program is available only to those ARA members who have completed CAR certification. The Gold Seal program is intended to ensure excellence in customer satisfaction through improved customer service, quality parts with accurate descriptions, reliable on-time deliveries and written product warranties.

Given the magnitude of the recycling process and the amount of recyclable items, ARA often partners with like-minded entities to address specific issues. One such partnership resulted in the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Removal Program, which is designed to remove mercury convenience light switches from scrap vehicles before the vehicles are flattened, shredded and melted to make new steel.

Under this voluntary program, auto recyclers agree to remove, collect and manage the mercury switches from scrapped vehicles. According to data collected from the ELVS Mercury Switch Recovery Program, since 2006, 49 states have recovered a total of 2.3 million switches and nearly 5,000 pounds of mercury. Although this national voluntary program is expected to end this summer, national switch collection will run through 2017.

ARA also has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop the Environmental Compliance for Automotive Recyclers (ECAR) Center, a Web site at that promotes environmental compliance education, guidance and a cooperative use of resources throughout the automotive recycling industrial sector. It is designed to be a "one-stop shop" for all automotive dismantling and recycling operations.

The ECAR Tour portion of the Web site is designed to be a user-friendly, interactive tool that allows users to quickly access the environmental requirements that apply to more than 20 specific auto recycling issues for each individual state. Fact sheets are available on air bag cartridges, antifreeze, aqueous cleaning, lead-acid batteries, brake fluid, floor drains, gasoline and diesel fuel, hazardous wastes, mercury, used oil, oil filters, refrigerants (CFCs), septic tanks and disposal wells, shop towels, solvent cleaning, storm water, used and scrap tires, transmission fluid, vehicle crusher, wastewater and window cleaner.

Professional automotive recyclers use ECAR to find answers to questions such as:
• How do I know what an environmental inspector looks for at my facility?
• How can I better follow the rules so as not to jeopardize my business?
• If changes are necessary, can I actually save money by incorporating some of these modifications?

Visitors to ECAR also will find:
• Updates on relevant regulatory developments for the industry;
• Compliance tools and training;
• A place to ask compliance questions and get answers;
• Databases on technologies and techniques used in the industry;
• Links to other assistance providers, vendors and suppliers; and
• State resource locators for a wide range of topics to help find important state-specific environmental compliance information.

In the future, automotive recyclers will need to keep current on new requirements for recycling/disposing of the traditional auto fluids and parts as well as learn new methods to recycle alternative automobile fuels and new car body materials.

By Betsy Beckwith,

Friday, November 06, 2009

Retire Your Ride - Canada's Vehicle Recycling Program

What's in a name? Plenty if you wanted to compare Canada's efforts to the USA CARS program.

Retire Your Ride is the program in Canada comparable to the USA's Cash For Clunkers program. The concept is generally the same - remove older higher polluting vehicles, but the goals, finances, timeframes, participants and legacies are dramatically different. And the nicknames also help describe the philosophical differences between the two initiatives - Cash For Clunkers or Canada's Vehicle Recycling Program. Which do you think is doing a better job for auto recyclers?

Canada's program was born over 8 years ago when the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association partnered with the Clean Air Foundation (CAF) to consolidate our charity vehicle programs under one banner - Car Heaven. That program targeted pre-1996 running vehicles by offering incentives to their owners to voluntarily retire their vehicle. GM Canada eventually partnered with the program and offered $1,000 off of a new GM vehicle. The vehicles were all processed by members of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) association.

In conjunction with ARC, CAF approached Environment Canada to introduce a larger program and this led to Retire Your Ride. In Budget 2007, the federal government allocated $92 million over 3 years to retire pre-1996 vehicles and ensure that all vehicles entering the program were properly retired. They utilized ARC as the technical experts on the industry and we wrote the Code of Practice that all participants on the program must follow.

Today, vehicle donors can receive $300 cash, $500 bicycle discounts, transit discounts, autoshare rebates - a variety of modest incentives, some with a sustainable transportation bent to them Most interestingly, the auto manufacturers have jumped on board - with their own money - and are providing additional incentives of up to $3,000. So far Hyundai, GM, Ford, Chrysler and Volkswagon have all signed on and are aggressively promoting the program.

Like Cash For Clunkers, the media has our industry under a very positive spotlight. Some of the publicity is negative, but its universally about the program not auto recyclers - some people deem the $300 cash as too little to buy a new vehicle. And we agree - but the program was never established as a short term economic stimulus project. It was to engage Canadians to understand the environmental effect of their older vehicle, and if they wanted to retire it early, here is a program that will provide a modest reward and we will ensure the vehicle is properly retired by the proper industry.

In addition to media coverage, governments of all levels have taken an unprecedented look at our industry, and it has allowed our various legislative agendas to be pushed ahead faster. Never has it been easier to meet with high ranking politicians of all stripes to educate them on the problems and opportunities that abound in our industry. We are also having more and more first hand discussions with the auto makers themselves.

Because auto recyclers were intimately involved in establishing the program, and ARC continues to act in a consulting capacity to CAF and Environment Canada, we have succeeded in improving the industry, both in the short and long terms, our Members are processing more cars they can buy at the right price, and a legacy of educational resources and information have been developed.

ARC was originally contracted by Environment Canada to write the voluntary Code of Practice for auto recyclers to participate in the program. We were provided funding to deploy in-person training across Canada, and online training for recyclers to better understand that Code. We are also funded to deliver the auto recycler engagement portion of the program - to essentially "sell" the benefits of the program to auto recyclers, and indirectly to prevent non-recyclers from getting access to the program vehicles. Along the way we have provided innumerable media interviews and government debriefings. In short, Retire Your Ride has cemented ARC's public profile as the go-to group representing the industry.

From north of the US border, Cash For Clunkers looks like it has been a mixed blessing for auto recyclers and perhaps the American public and economy. Big dollars spent quickly can have unintended consequences that are often not healthy. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Now to the numbers - we are on track to retire about 60,000 vehicles across Canada in 2009 after only 9 months of activity, which compares well to the US numbers adjusting for population. But we will have spent 1/100th of the taxpayers money compared to the US experience, and the program will be running next year and probably the year after that. The vast majority of cars are processed by ARC Members, and we will have received millions of dollars of media coverage and lobbying opportunities. We are very happy with auto recycler benefits of Retire Your Ride.

This article has not meant to be a criticism of Cash For Clunkers or ARA's efforts to craft a win out of this opportunity. On the contrary, given that it was a short term, quickly conceived, stimulus project aimed at satisfying dealers and manufacturers - auto recyclers have done OK with the program. Canada has developed a slow starting program that is still building, and with ARC near the centre of it all, we can help make sure this is one of the biggest wins for our industry ever.

Retiring old cars helps environment and wallets

Getting rid of an old junky ride has never been easier.

Retire your ride, a program through the Government of Canada and the Clean Air Foundation, is a national vehicle recycling program. The program’s goal is simple, to get cars from 1995 or earlier off the streets in an effort to reduce air pollution.

According to the organization, a vehicle from 1995 or earlier emits 19 times more air pollution than a 2004 or newer vehicle. Yet, on average, 75 per cent of that vehicle can be recycled.

Now, with the retire your ride program, the government has thrown in an added incentive to take that old vehicle off the road.

“Clean Air Foundation has always worked to engage people to take environmental action. By rewarding them for making positive environmental choices we can drive massive change,” said Fatima Crerar, Executive Director of Clean Air Foundation.

Car owners who bring in their car from 1995 or earlier that is currently licensed and insured, and has been for the past six consecutive months, can receive a $300 cheque.

The stipulation for it to be licensed and insured is to help ensure that by participating, the owner is in fact taking an old car off the road.

“It’s a fantastic program, good for the environment and good for consumers” said Wally Dingman of Caughill Auto Wreckers.

Caughill Auto is a member of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers association (OARA), the industry association that administers the Retire Your Ride program in Ontario.

“OARA views the Retire Your Ride program as a huge boost for the industry by mandating a national Code of Practice to ensure these vehicles are recycled responsibly” said Dingman, chair of OARA.

Since February more than 15,000 cars have been permanently retired and recycled through the program, with 15,000 more applications currently in the system.

On average, there is are 160-200 applications processed a day, with the highest single one-day spike being 420.

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Caughill Auto on East and West Line is the only authorized Retire Your Ride facility.

“The process is very simple” said Dingman. “Complete the application form and provide proof of ownership and insurance and we will do the rest”

The $300 cheque is mailed directly to the applicant which can take from 4-6 weeks to receive.

For more information visit

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Salvage yard misconceptions addressed

Insurance companies have begun asking shops to use more salvage parts, which has led to even more interaction between the collision and salvage industries.

"So the shops need to adjust to that, and they have been," said Shawn Collins of AAA Auto Salvage in Twin Cities, Minn. "I see that they are starting to use more and accept that, but at the same time they are also starting to expect higher quality parts."

But many collision shops don't have a full understanding of how modern salvage yards work, which sometimes leads to conflicts and misunderstandings. In their two-part Wednesday afternoon session, "Getting the Most out of Recycled Parts," Collins and Eric Shulz of AAA Auto Salvage provided a virtual tour of how a salvage yard operates and provided tips on how to make the best use of recycled parts in a repair facility.

In the first part of the presentation, Collins and Shulz explained how salvage operations have changed over the years.

"It used to be the sales people at the counter would see the parts, and they were kind of doing everything," Collins said. "Now we have an inventory process, so before the car is dismantled everything is gone over and any issues with rust or damage are addressed at that point and entered into the computer. The salespeople don't see the part before it leaves. They rely on the inventory process to address any issues with the parts."

The salvage industry is governed by standards established primarily by the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA). ARA has instituted two programs, Certified Automotive Recycler (CAR) and Gold Seal, which measure business practices, yard performance, customer service and other parameters.

There also are industry standards related to such things as what's included on an assembly. "You can tell, for example, if a trim panel is included with a door," Collins said. "There are certain rules that everybody should be following. A lot of shops just don't realize that."

ARA also has established inspection criteria. "You can communicate damage codes to the shop based on those guidelines," Collins said. "If the shop is sourcing parts online, they can see that code and know how much damage to expect on the part."

Collins and Shulz also explained the dismantling process, and what items are included in various assemblies.

"When you compare a used part to an OEM part, economically, the used part has an advantage," Collins said. "If you need the complete door and you have to buy that in a million pieces, it's going to cost a fortune. When you buy a used assembly it's got everything with it."

For shops to work effectively with salvage yards, they shouldn't order parts until they're sure those parts are needed, and make returns in a timely manner.

"Shops don't realize that there's a lot of labor involved in dismantling these cars," Collins said. "If a body shop orders a section, they don't take into consideration that we have to send a technician out there to cut off that section. If they want to return it, we've already invested a lot of labor in that section."

The second half of the presentation focused on helping shops make the best use of used parts.

"Sometimes you have vehicles where there are so many overlapping panels that it would be very difficult to utilize a used section," Collins said. "We're also running into issues with the new higher strength steels that have more heat sensitivity and can't be sectioned in certain areas."

Collins and Shulz also discussed other OEM techniques that are impacting salvage parts, like new adhesives and laser welds.

They also walked attendees through a sectioning procedure and talked about things that should be included in an estimate that many body shops miss, such as manufacturing inserts or sleeves, trim time, dealing with new foams, and repairing damage caused by removing newer adhesives.

By Brian Albright,

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Recyclers: Extend Clunker Destruction Deadline

Consumers Look To Save Money By Buying Cheap, Used Auto Parts

More than 700,000 drivers took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program. Now, drivers looking to save money on car repairs are cashing in too, with cheaper, used car parts.

Angelo Harris searched a rainy, south suburban auto recycling yard for a windshield.

"The part I need costs $100 at the dealers, $30 here," Harris said.

At the same recycler, Tony Fondren searched for a fuel pump for his truck.

"To get this done in a car dealership would be about $500. I can come here and do it myself, and just pay $80," Fondren said.

In this recession, car recyclers are a valuable resource for cash-strapped drivers. But consumers may lose the chance to save millions on used parts.

Under the Cash for Clunkers program, car recyclers must destroy the clunkers -- crush them -- within 180 days. That's not enough time, recyclers say, to remove and save all the valuable parts.

"The Cash for Clunker cars, they're nice because they have good parts that we can sell to people, at huge savings," said James Watson, vice president of ABC Auto Parts in Riverdale.

ABC Auto Parts alone received 1,050 clunkers, more than three times the number of cars they usually buy in a month. That created a backlog of cars that could be crushed before the parts are stripped out.

Consumers spend $22 billion a year on used car parts, largely because new parts are so costly.

Experts estimate it would cost four times the price of any new car to rebuild that car from scratch with new auto parts. Buying used parts saves at least 50 percent, sometimes much more.

Recyclers want the Cash for Clunkers destruction deadline extended up to a year, to ensure consumers aren't crushed along with the cars.

"These are high quality cars that have a lot of good used parts that people need to fix up their cars," Watson said. "And they will be lost, they definitely will be lost."

Of course, extending the deadline would help auto recyclers, too, giving them the opportunity to make more money by selling more parts. It's something both the Obama administration and Congress are mulling over.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Retired Cars

It seems as though everyone is talk ing about scrapping a vehicle these days. I think this is largely due to the hype that surrounded the American Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, better known as "Cash for Clunkers."

While the CARS program certainly demanded a lot of media attention and was a huge success in some respects, the Canadian program provides features and benefits that are at least equal to that of the American program, and may even be greater on a per capita basis.

Retire Your Ride is flourishing on a grand scale. To date the program has retired more than 15,000 older vehicles from Canada's roads, and reduced smog forming emissions by over 800 tons.

Canada's Retire Your Ride Program is an initiative of the Government of Can ada, the Clean Air Foundation, and its partners. The program is designed primarily as a mechanism to encourage the removal of older higher polluting vehicles from our roads and making sure they are responsibly recycled.

The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) is the national voice of the automotive recycling industry in Canada. The association has participated in development, and has been instrumental in providing input for the Retire Your Ride Program.

Steve Fletcher is the managing director of ARC. He says, "Retire Your Ride is all about the environment, both retiring high polluting vehicles and encouraging responsible recycling of those vehicles."

Personally, what I like most about the Canadian program is how it is set up for success and addresses all industry stakeholder concerns. The driving public now has an incen tive to scrap their 1995 or older model vehicle. As long as it is in running condition and has been registered and insured for the last six months, they can simply drop it off at an accredited auto recycler and receive a $300 "reward" for doing so. If that reward doesn't appeal, there are other incentives available. These include transit passes, bicycles, memberships in car sharing programs, and discounts on new and used vehicles.

Professional automotive recyclers play a key role in the disposal of these vehicles, as we are the ones who make sure that every vehicle scrapped under the Retire Your Ride program is dealt with in an en vironmentally friendly manner. The National Code of Practice was cre ated for Environment Canada by ARC. Those of us that are registered in the pro gram and have completed the training session on the National Code of Practice are helping to make the entire process seamless for all parties involved.


The Clean Air Foundation has fostered many pro-environmental programs. The people that make up the organization have shown that they truly under stand the very nature of automotive recyclers. This is especially true regard ing what we can bring to the table from a "Green" perspective.

With the vision of the Clean Air Foundation and the strong support from ARC and all call centres throughout the country, we are sure to retire at least 50,000 vehicles per year until March 31, 2011.

As Steve Fletcher says, "the Retire Your Ride program is based around a three year stable funding arrangement that sees Federal money leveraging other stakeholder's financial commitments."

While the $300 incentive may not seem like a lot of money, it is truly enough to make a profound impact on many Canadians who can appreciate the severity of the situation from not only a financial perspective but also an environmental perspective.

In terms of a stimulus package, the Retire Your Ride program is fully supportive of seeing manufactures "top-up" the $300 incentive to encourage the driving public to purchase a newer, more fuel efficient car, truck, or van.

Chrysler, Hyundai, GM, Volkswagen and Ford are all official automotive partners of the Retire Your Ride Program. These five manufactures offer additional incentives over and above the $300 incentive that comes from the government. These incentives come out of the company’s coffers. They're not taxpayer money.

Owners and managers of collision repair centres can help advance this cause by helping to educate the public on the pro -environmental initiatives of this program. It's also a great opportunity to educate them on the environmental and economic benefits of the re-using of car components in general.

The benefits of automotive recycling in general, and in particular the re-use of high-quality OEM vehicle components, are very important for the preservation of our precious natural resources. Central to the entire Retire Your Ride program is recognition of this fact. For this reason, I believe it is an appropriate vehicle retirement program and is one that should be supported. It promises good things for all stakeholders, as well as every person in Canada.

David Gold is the co-owner of Standard Auto Wreckers, an auto recycling facility with locations in Toronto, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York.