Texas Auto Recycling Gets An Identity

After being just a blip on the screens of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas auto recycling finally gets its own identity.

For years it was lumped with anything to do with motor vehicles. It was under the umbrella of TxDOT, one of the largest state agencies, and completely lost.

"No one realized who we were," said Bruce Ormand, vice president, A1 Partsmart, Austin, Texas (A1Partsmart.com). "They thought we were junkyards."

Tim Straney, president of Glenn's Auto & Truck Parts (GlennsAutoAndTruckParts.com) in Houston, Texas, said changes in Texas law a few years back left the door wide open for anyone to sell used parts. Due to the enormity of TxDOT, it was not properly monitoring the startup used-parts dealers. According to Ormand, out of 1,363 licensed auto recyclers in Texas, only 361 had applied for stormwater permits.

"You would call the TCEQ and be referred to the local police department, who would refer you to the troopers, who would tell you they were too busy," Ormand elaborated. "We were the proverbial hot potato. If we called someone in, everyone would say they were too busy."

Since 2007, the Texas Automotive Recyclers Association (TARA) has been trying to change this. On June 19, 2009 it succeeded. Senate Bill 1095, or the Texas Used Automotive Parts Recycling Act, was signed into law.

"This law does three important things," explained Straney, TARA president. "It explains who we are, what we do and what we're responsible for."

The act moved auto recycling from TxDOT to the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR). It cleaned up and simplified the rules and regulations already on the books. The law also added new requirements, including having $250,000 of liability coverage and licenses for all salespeople to protect customers.

"If I'm a legally operating business I should already have a tax ID number and a stormwater permit," clarified Ormand, TARA secretary / treasurer. "We wanted to simplify the law as much as possible. I'm busy enough; I don't need anymore red tape."

The new salesperson license takes effect in September. It costs $30 per year per salesperson and includes a background check by TDLR on every applicant. Ormand explained the background check is only to identify areas of an applicant's past that could pose a risk, like auto theft, not to hold people responsible for every skeleton in their closet.

"We look at it as a positive for the salesperson," he said. "I think it says, ‘Hey, I've been certified.' It lends more credence to the profession. And it's a huge benefit for owners. For $30 you're buying a little insurance for your company."

Also part of the new act is the creation of the Texas Automotive Parts Recycling Advisory Board.  The board, made up of five auto recyclers (including Straney and Ormand), meets twice a year to advise the TDLR, which will hold biannual inspections of all licensed auto-recycling facilities. TARA will post an anonymous inspection request form on its site.

"This new act is a benefit to our entire industry," said Straney. "It is going to improve accountability and integrity."

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