Depollution Now Law In Canada

Auto recyclers in Ontario, Canada have reached a milestone that has been years in the making. As of March 31, 2016, failure to depollute a vehicle before it is crushed is illegal.

“There’s now specific auto recycling legislation that exists,” said Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA) executive director. The specific legislation works to hold everyone in the ELV supply chain accountable. “(For those in the industry) you’re either in or you’re out. We’ve tried to eliminate all wiggle room.”

Everyone Is Accountable

That means any business that deals with End of Life Vehicles (ELVs), not just an auto recycling facility, has to depollute it and identify the pollutants that need to be removed. Every business has to do its part, with no exceptions. This also extends to tow companies, scrap yards, etc. A shredder, for example, now has a legal obligation to only buy from a licensed auto dismantler, otherwise the fault of not depolluting the vehicle falls to it, Fletcher explained. The shredders become part of the policing of the law, he added. The standard is reasonable for Ontario businesses to adhere to, but firm enough to protect the environment.

According to Fletcher, there is a six-month phase-in for businesses acquiring more than two ELVs per year or 10 ELVs at any time. There is also a 12-month phase-in for compliance for all other aspects of the regulations. The new legislation will be completely in place within 18 months.

The first offense for failure to depollute a vehicle is a ticket. As the offenses multiply, so do the penalties with the final offense being incarceration. “This goes from civil all the way to criminal,” Fletcher said.

The Legislation Process

The End of Life Vehicle regulation under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act didn’t happen overnight. Ten years ago the Ontario federal government came to the auto recycling industry to help develop a scrappage program.

“We basically advised them that there were no laws on auto recycling,” said Fletcher.

The scrappage program only lasted a couple years (similar to the U.S. Cash For Clunkers program), but during that time a code of practice was developed that OARA and ARC updated and rebranded as CAREC, the Canadian Auto Recyclers Environmental Code. The practice was quickly adopted by ARC and now CAREC standards are mandatory for all ARC members, which Fletcher said are reasonable requirements with a ton of best practices ideas. CAREC set ARC members apart from junkyards and others in the industry that didn’t responsibly recycle End of Life Vehicles (ELVs).

“That was the catalyst that gave our industry an identity and separated us from others,” he added. “For the most part, no one was checking (on ELV depollution) and no one knew who was in the industry.”

It was this separation that gave OARA and ARC members the ability to become the authority in the province on how ELVs should be processed. “Manufacturers call us now and say, ‘I have a problem and you’re the solution,’” said Fletcher.

Support For Regulations

Auto manufacturers helped Fletcher and the Canadian auto recyclers get the attention of the government and supported their efforts to properly handle ELVs. But it was a fire that really turned the tables to get an updated law on the books. Fletcher said a huge fire occurred at a pre-shredding facility near Ottawa because the cars weren’t depolluted (the equivalent of a fire happening outside of Washington D.C.). The lawmakers had to take note to make sure it didn’t happen again.

The government married CAREC and other regulations to develop the new legislation. The End of Life Vehicle Sector Council - a national committee - was also created to help aid in compliance and enforcement. Members of ARC, manufacturers and the CAA, basically anyone who’s in the industry, all have a place on the committee.

The new law is a big change, not only for Ontario, but for the rest of the country as well. Municipalities from across the province are looking to see how the new law will work.

“A lot of government and non-government entities have a stake in this,” Fletcher added.

Fletcher expects the ELV regulation to be adopted in some form or another in the country’s other provinces.

“We want this to spread to the rest of the country,” he said. “Many jurisdictions are waiting to see what Ontario is doing. It’s a pretty big win. It’s not often you go from nothing to legislation.”

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