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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Making the Grade

When it comes to quality, recycled auto parts are top notch.

Recycled auto parts are a great way to save money, help the environment and breathe new life into a vehicle. And with strict protocols in place for automotive recyclers, you can feel confident that the parts you purchase will be reliable. Contrary to popular belief, recycled auto parts aren’t simply removed from a vehicle and sold immediately. Each part is thoroughly inspected before being declared suitable for sale. Each part is also graded according to the Automotive Recyclers Association standards and codes guidelines. Parts are graded as follows:

A = The highest quality part with a minimal amount of damage
B = A second-level quality part with a moderate amount of damage
C = A third-level quality part that, although still usable, exceeds a moderate amount of damage

Auto body parts such as bumpers and doors are graded based on the necessary repair time needed to make the part “clean and undamaged.” For example, a grade “A” part could be a front door with a small ding. A roof with hail damage would get a “B” grade, and a bent tailgate would be considered “C” grade. mechanical parts such as engines, carburetors and transmissions are graded based on mileage per year. For example, an engine with 80,000 kilometres would be considered a grade “A” part, a transmission with 145,000 kilometres would be a “B” grade part, and an engine with 400,000 kilometres would be considered a “C” grade part.

The grading system is reflected in the price of each part. if you have a vehicle thatyou only plan to drive for the next year, a grade “c” part may be a good option as you could be saving upwards of 80% of the original equipment manufacturer’s price. On the other hand, if you have a vehicle that you plan to drive for a few more years, you may want to choose a higher-grade part that you know will last longer. Either way,buying recycled parts will definitely save you money.

And just like when buying new parts, recycled auto parts also come with warranties. “The average industry warranty is about 120 days and is creeping up over time. Plus, over half of our members offer extended warranties of some kind on each part sold,” says Steve Fletcher, Executive Director of the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association. “They’re recognizing that just because you make a sale and the person’s out the door, you still have an obligation to stand behind the part you sell.”

To find an automotive recycling centre near you or to search the online inventory for a specific part, visit

-- CAA Magazine

Monday, October 25, 2010

TrendSetter: Automotive Recyclers of Canada and Managing Director Steve Fletcher

Keeping All Eyes on the Mission

“The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC), led by Managing Director Steve Fletcher, serves as an inspiration to auto recycling trade associations at every level and throughout the world. ARC leads the way in developing partnerships with related industries, government entities, and the public. Their focus on the future has had tremendous results, with noteworthy accomplishments include the ‘Green Parts’ logo and materials, Code of Practice and training program for auto recyclers, the Canadian Auto Recycler magazine, the ‘Retire Your Ride’ program, and the ‘Switch Out’ mercury recovery program.

“Not only has the ARC association had tremendous results, they also have the talent and vision to promote these programs in a way that shines an international light on the value of professional auto recycling – and that benefits the entire industry.”

– Martha Cowell, Executive Director, State of California Auto Dismantlers Association

Those are high accomplishments for an organization of just 7 members, 8 if you count the Canadian government, but as Steve Fletcher humbly explains, “All the programs that we run come from a desire to collaborate with other people or organizations. We didn’t create them from concept to implementation. We kind of fell into some of these initiatives and are always looking for ways to insert ourselves into the process.”

“Therefore our ideas grow pretty organically,” Fletcher says, “it’s a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”

ARC is different from other industry organizations. Formed in 1997, it is an “association of associations” that serves as a clearinghouse of automotive recycling industry information with the sole purpose of collaborating and working with everyone possible to aid and assist the growth of the industry in Canada. [A full list of the member associations can be found at]

Fletcher also serves in the dual role as the Executive Director of Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), which he credits to the philosophy of sharing of resources.

“It’s everyone is working together,” says Fletcher, “which allows ARC to stay focused on its mission, and not get side-tracked with the competitive aspects that can hinder some organizations.”

Fletcher’s background in advertising and marketing is apparent in the approach ARC takes. “We promote and make people aware of what we are doing. With a consistent message on what we are trying to convey to people, with every little thing we do, you we add on to our ‘scrapbook,’ and people start noticing as it all grows into bigger things,” says Fletcher.

For instance, he started a Blog ( on automotive recycling “as a way to keep track of all the good things happening, the little successes that make greater successes when they are all pasted together.” As a result of all this good information being released, government agencies are turning more and more to ARC to work with them on projects.

In Canada, the government is more collaborative more so than other countries. For instance, in the British Columbia there is a government-run car insurance program. “Auto recyclers there tend to be more sophisticated, they don’t have to go around and market to a lot of other companies and get noticed. Insurers have to talk to auto recyclers,” Fletcher says. ARC takes the success of programs like this to illustrate how things can be improved in other regions. “We present this program to insurance companies in other regions to show them there is another way to do business.”

“We are just 10 percent of U.S. population and highly fragmented. To a certain extent, if we don’t work together, we won’t have an identity or a business. We cannot dominate so we have to reach consensus,” Fletcher says.

The most well-known initiative is the Green Parts branding program which was conceived by the OARA, and then marketed through the ARC. OARA hired a consultant to generate a marketing concept to “raise the whole industry up,” says Fletcher. “We didn’t think the logo was so spectacular, we had seen it so much, but others said, ‘how can we participate in this.’ OARA could have kept it to themselves, but if they share it, can help everyone. Sharing creates a wider place of influence.”

My role is to “translate what the outside world is saying to automotive recyclers and visa versa,” says Fletcher. “I didn’t come from the auto recycling industry,” says Fletcher, “so I have a different view of things.” This, he says, is an asset to help create a positive perception with the general public. “We want to promote things like Mercury Switch Out and Retire Your Ride programs to the public, both which took about 7 to 9 years of development. We pull switches because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a good story to tell. Retire Your Ride equals public engagement and shows the best of recycling, and it spills over to us.”

Recently, a network of OARA recyclers held a successful tire-recycling event that raised public awareness and generated a $64,000 donation to the Sunshine Foundation of Canada. Other recyclers can do the same, suggests Fletcher, “Create our own event. Send media releases. Also, get to know your politicians and know your local media. Work with your contacts to promote your event and this industry. We believe in top down, bottom up marketing with local buy in from our Members.”

ARC and Fletcher are also very active in the issues going on in the global automotive recycling industry. ARC is hosting the International Roundtable, September 17-19, in Quebec City, Quebec ( “What is noteworthy about this event is that we have invited all the vehicle manufacturers to come and they will be represented either directly or through their associations. This is a first. Their participation is primarily to get perspective on our industry and find commonality.”

What keeps Fletcher going is the “ability to move quickly and to stay focused on the mission of representing professional auto recyclers and the industry. We strive to take advantage of all opportunities to represent the interests of the industry. The mission is most important.”

Reprinted from the Automotive Recyclers Association's Automotive Recycling Magazine, Fall 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

International Roundtable on Automotive Recycling Opening Address

International Roundtable on Automotive Recycling opening address from Joe Rayment on Vimeo.

The National Code: Auto recyclers take the high road

In February of 2009, Retire Your Ride (a government-funded, pro-environmental program) was started with the intention of removing highly polluting cars from the road. Within Ontario, the program allows the driving public to come into federally approved locations to scrap their 1995 or older vehicles to receive a cash reward equal to $300, along with other incentives. So in administering this program, what exactly did participating auto recyclers agree to?

With the creation of this program, a National Code of Practice was put in place. The code itself outlines requirements that must be upheld by all participants of the program, and ultimately sets a standard that shows how we differentiate ourselves from non-ARC (Automotive Recyclers of Canada) members and scrap yards. When establishing what areas must be referred to and covered in the code, it must be noted that auto recyclers themselves played a key role in the development of the National Code of Practice for Environment Canada. With the ARC taking an active role, they were able to make suggestions and proposals as to what they felt were the most important areas for the government to focus in on.

There are guidelines now in place in regards to the administration aspect of the program as well as the procedural obligations. This is to clarify the correct way to process all vehicles that come into the recycling facility. Fundamental steps in the process – such as the extraction of Freon and the removal of mercury switches and batteries from the vehicles – are key in the overall success of accomplishing the main goal: the green initiative.

Now that Retire Your Ride has been running for some time, as auto recyclers we have been able to learn and expand on many of our own practices. This ensures the regulations and standards are being both met and exceeded. It has become clear that more efficient procedures have been put in place as a result of this new initiative. Our front-line staff all took part in online and classroom training ranging from the administration of the program to the emergency spill remediation plans. These were completed as required and as a result employees were better educated and response times improved for important environmental elements of the program.

Intangibles such as workplace safety was one area in which we were able to make improvements because actions were being taken to ensure the requirements of the code were being fulfilled.

With being as environmentally friendly as possible as one of the main priorities, the program allows its auto recyclers to take the initiative a step further. In addition to reducing the amount of toxic emissions released into the air, auto recyclers further the green initiative by reusing non-emission-forming parts off the vehicles as opposed to merely scrapping them.
Precautionary measures such as the elimination of all potential sources of pollution from the vehicles are taken to ensure that we mitigate potential hazards to the environment.

Professional auto recyclers are the driving force behind the processing of the vehicles brought in by the program, and it is nice to finally be recognized as a significant contributor to the work being done toward accomplishing the cause.

The journey in running this program thus far has been a positive experience. We’ve all taken significant steps to achieving the greatest feasible impact on making the auto recycling industry as green as possible. Implementing the code of practice in our respective businesses is not only making a positive impact on the daily procedures and standards, but on the overall green initiative at hand.

Thank you to all those involved in the creation and implementation of this program. We look forward to other successful green initiatives in the future.

David Gold is the co-owner of Standard Auto Wreckers, an auto recycling facility with locations in Toronto, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York. He can be reached by phone at 416-286-8686 or via e-mail at, or you can view the company web site at

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Auto recyclers from around the world gather in Québec City for the International Roundtable on Auto Recycling

Québec City, Quebec--September 29, 2010--It started as a simple forum--an exchange of ideas and discussion of what the auto recycling industry could do to improve the business.

Currently, in its 5th year of succession, the International Roundtable on Auto Recycling--IRT for short--has become a global phenomenon, uniting leaders and scholars in auto recycling, insurance, repairs and government in one forum over the course of a few days.

This year, the Auto Recyclers of Canada (ARC) played host to the IRT in Québec City. Representatives from Canada, US, Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, and Malaysia met from September 19-21, 2010 to discuss the issues and challenges affecting the world-wide industry.

The three-day event began on a high note, sparking new friendships and networking opportunities and facility tours at Pièces D’autos Dumont Inc., a family-run business who also hosted the ARPAC convention the same week; Lecavalier Auto Parts, one of the oldest auto recycling facilities in Canada and a second-generation family business; and LKQ Pintendre Autos Inc., one of Canada's largest auto recycling facilities.

Each of the host facilities provided food and refreshments for the visitors with Pièces D’autos Dumont serving a delicious breakfast, Lecavalier serving hors d'oeuvres and locally made ice wine, and LKQ finishing off tours with a roast beef lunch.

The day continued back at Hotel Plaza Québec with a social mixer, followed by a good night's rest in preparation for the the next day's jam-packed schedule.

Day two consisted of global presentations and country and association reports. It began with an opening message from Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association executive director (OARA) and ARC managing director Steve Fletcher, who also acted as the discussion moderator and host.

Ed MacDonald, ARC chairman, formally welcomed the group in the dialectics of each of the visiting countries. He also challenged the group.

“The task of this meeting is for everyone to gain a world understanding of automotive recycling,” MacDonald said.

During the association and country reports, speakers presented snapshots of the successes and challenges auto recycling has seen their regions recently.

Automotive Recyclers' Association (ARA) executive vice president Michael Wilson discussed US recyclers' experience with the Cash for Clunkers program, which the American government instated in 2008 to try to stimulate the automotive industry. "Most of the vehicles hit the doors last September," Wilson said. "ARA received a lot mileage from the program and free media helped spread the word on the initiative."

The program wasn't flawless, however. It's primary intent was to stimulate auto sales; many government elements didn't take the recyclers into account.

As the conversations continued, Canada's Retire Your Ride emerged as a better model due to the government consultation with automotive recyclers, its more modest scope and cooperation with OEMs.

Kasper Zom, senior consultant to Auto Recycling Netherlands (ARN), discussed the evolution of vehicle recycling and extended producer responsibility in the Netherlands, as well as what practices they've found useful in raising auto recycling awareness.

“The most important incentive to handing in a car in the Netherlands is the ownership tax," Zom said. "When you go to a recycling shop, they will de-register your car for you and you will not have to pay taxes on it anymore.”

During the Japan Automotive Recyclers Association presentation, director of automotive environmental analysis Minoru Goko proposed the idea of marketing recycled parts with a points system of CO2 rates. The CO2 reduction rate of recycled parts is lower and therefore, better for the environment than the rate of new OEM parts.

Recycled steel from end-of-life vehicles is also better than iron stone from the steel manufacturer process.

"I hope the CO2 reduction rate of recycled parts gets spearheaded by the IRT network as an international standard for all recyclers in the world as green parts for a greener world,” Goko said.
In Malaysia, the import of used automotive parts and components will be prohibited starting June 2011, which will put Malaysian automotive recyclers in serious trouble.

"MAARA is vigorously promoting membership amongst the industry," said Malaysia Automotive Recyclers Association president Gwee Bok Wee said. "We look forward to any support and assistance any associations have to offer. We are in the process of preparing a proposal to be submitted to the International Trade and Industry Ministry in Malaysia to reconsider their national automotive policy."

Mexico, who are currently in the preliminary stages of creating an end-of-life management plan, have enlisted the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Some of the problems we have encountered already are insufficient confirmation on treatment of ELVs [end-of-life vehicles] and shredders don’t receive sufficient ELV metal scrap from ELV dismantling sites due to a lack of reliable relationship,” said JICA's Kazunori Kitagawa.

Kitagawa used the IRT as an opportunity to seek input from the world's established automotive recycling associations--many of whom had offered their continued support by the conference's end.

After another full day of information, attendees were invited to relax and enjoy each others' company during a dine-around dinner tour. It was a feast for the eyes and mouth. Groups of three toured through old Québec, stopping to enjoy their appetizers, entrées and desserts at a different restaurant for each course.

Day three of the IRT conference was the last day of the conference and the official roundtable discussion.

The general consensus was that more channels of communications were necessary to share international knowledge and information among the associations as well as with the public.

“We are generating a number of resources that will come out of this event,” Steve Fletcher said. “We are committed to issuing a CD of some the resource materials and some of the speeches. My goal is to get that to all of the associations and for the delegates as well.”

The group agreed to share the Green Parts name and logo, which are owned by OARA and ARPAC. Representatives from the ARA volunteered to share their knowledge on trademarking to help the various regions navigate the some times complicated terrain of establishing the name and logo.

All members of the discussion agreed that having an internationally recognized brand would be beneficial to the selling recycled parts' environmental merits.

Finally, Kasper Zom put the Netherlands' name in to host the next IRT in approximately 18 months (which, he cautioned, would be pending approval from the association). Both the ARA and the MAARA also put their names in to host future IRTs.

"These meetings are very good for networking," said David Nolan, who was representing the Auto Recylers Association of Australia. "I learned a lot, especially during the tours of the facilities--it was really interesting to see how they work with the insurance companies."

Nolan was particularly interested in the conversations surrounding the implementation of the US Cash for Clunkers program. Australia is getting ready to establish its own program to take older vehicles off the road. "It was clear that the US government had not thought [Cash for Clunkers] out...Obviously we're going to work with the Aussie industry to make sure all the problems are ironed out before it's implemented."

AADCO Auto Parts' Don Fraser was similarly delighted with how much he learned during the three-day conference. "This was the first IRT I have been to, so I went in with high expectations," Fraser said. "All of my expectations were met due to the hard work put in by Steve and the ARC board. The Sunday yard tours were great...Even the discussions on the bus were enlightening," he continued.

"Monday was packed with speakers, but every one had there time and made the most of it with informative topics."