Quebec City Canada 2010

The 5th International Roundtable Meeting was held in one of the oldest cities in North America – Québec City. Hosted by the Automotive Recyclers of Canada, the IRT had representatives from leading automotive recyclers in Australia, Europe, Japan, Malaysia and the United States.

Check out our video slide presentation.

Program Highlights

Sunday, September 19, 2010
9:00 am – 4:00 pm Guided tours of three local recycling facilities – lunch provided
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Welcoming reception with canapes and entertainment

Monday, September 20, 2010
9:00 am – 12:00 pm Presentations from each automotive recycling association representative
12:00 – 2:00 pm Lunch and networking
2:00 – 5:00 pm Topics of Interest Forum
7:00 – 11:00 pm Dinner and guided tour of Old Québec

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
9:00 am – 12:00 pm Roundtable discussions
12:00 – 2:00 pm Lunch and networking
2:00 – 4:00 pm Roundtable discussions (continued)

Here is a visual overview of the Quebec IRT.

IRT 2010 Synopsis

Day One
The three-day event began on a high note, sparking new friendships and networking opportunities during facility tours at Pièces D’autos Dumont Inc., a family-run business who also hosted l’association des Recycleurs de Pièces d’Autos et de Camions au Québec convention earlier in the week. Next was a tour of Lecavalier Auto Parts, one of the oldest auto recycling facilities in Canada and a second-generation family business. Finally, IRT attendees toured LKQ Pintendre Autos Inc., one the largest auto recycling facilities in Canada.

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 the afternoon 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 next day’s jam-packed schedule.

Day Two
Ed MacDonald, ARC chairman, formally welcomed the group on the second day in the dialectics of each of the visiting countries. He also issued a challenged to 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 that followed, each speaker presented pertinent information about what is working and not working in auto recycling in their respective countries.

On behalf of the Auto Recyclers Association of Australia (APRAA) David Nolan told the forum that one of the challenges that may impede future profitability Australian auto recycling will be the lack of advanced technology usage.

“Technologies such as computerized business management systems are relatively low in usage and mostly outdated, which is something that we are looking to address in the near future,” Nolan said.

Australia will also be launching its own program to take older vehicles off the road as of January 1, 2011. The program will run for four years. “We’re going to work with the Aussie industry to make sure all the problems are ironed out before it’s implemented,” Nolan said.

This point was driven home to Nolan over the course of the roundtable as he listened to other countries’ experiences with similar programs such as the US Cash for Clunkers program—which had difficulties due to lack of the recycling industry’s involvement in the program’s planning stage—and Canada’s Retire Your Ride program—which had success as a result of the government’s extensive consultation process.

OARA executive director and ARC managing director Steve Fletcher presented the Canadian auto recycling update on behalf of ARC.

Three major auto recycling-related programs ARC is responsible for include Retire Your Ride, Switch Out and Car Heaven.

Retire Your Ride is a national initiative that is run in partnership with the Summerhill Impact Group and other consulting partners. The goal was to retire 50,000 vehicles model year 1995 or older by March 30, 2011. To date they have already surpassed their targets, recently surpassing the 100,000 vehicle mark. Many OEMs have also contributed to the program by offering additional monetary incentives and bonuses for retiring aging vehicles.

Car Heaven is Retire Your Ride’s predecessor program and was also run with the help of Summerhill Impact and Environment Canada. The program launched in Toronto, Ontario in 2000 and later expanded into others parts of Ontario. Over the course of six years, it grew from province to province, later encompassing most of Canada.

Their mercury switch removal program—Switch Out—is the result of a partnership with the Clean Air Foundation, Canadian Steel Producers Association and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association. The national program is aimed at removing, collecting and managing mercury-containing convenience lighting switches and anti-lock braking system sensor modules in end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) before they are decommissioned.

“The program is administered by Summerhill Impact and is supported by the voluntary cooperation of Canadian auto recyclers,” Fletcher said. “On average, we collect about 120,000 switches per year, which averages to about 37 per cent each year.”

Lastly, Fletcher spoke about Green Parts, an initiative that helped make recycled parts more recognizable and accessible to the public throughout Canada. The idea of branding the Green Parts name and logo internationally was a hot topic of discussion the following day during the roundtable discussions.

During Summerhill Impact CEO Ersilia Serafani’s presentation, she discussed the organization’s approach to leveraging public engagement programs to have a measurable impact on the environment.

Serafini was happy to report that they’ve built many positive relationships with other organizations, including the government, to meet their common environmental goals.

“Our focus has been to identify consumer products that have a huge impact on the environment,” Serafini said. “And then coming up with turn-key solutions to get old, inefficient products out of the markets and push consumers to more environmentally friendly solutions.”

One the next biggest issues Summerhill seeks to address lies in the Northwest Territories. It is a fragile ecosystem with a vast amount of land and little capacity currently in place manage retired vehicles. Summerhill has worked with OARA in trying to get a project off the ground to introduce a more robust auto-recycling infrastructure to the territory.

“We recently brought Aboriginal leaders, government leaders and auto recyclers together to start assessing the area and to try to find solutions,” Serafini said.

She concluded her presentation by appealing to IRT attendees for any ideas and information that may be beneficial to the problem in the Northwest Territories.

Japan’s auto recycling activity was represented by two associations: the Japan Auto Recyclers Association (JARA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Minoru Goko, JARA’s director of automotive environmental analysis reported that overall Japan’s recycled automotive parts industry is doing well.

As Goko explained it, the flourishing business is likely related to the government implemented tax reduction policy, which has provide many ELVs for Japanese auto recyclers. The policy was from April 2010 to September 2010. Currently, many of the auto recyclers who benefited from the initial surge of vehicles are concerned that volume will decrease significantly in future months.

One of JARA’s successful projects has been marketing recycled parts through a points system that displays CO2 rates to the public. The CO2 rate of recycled parts is lower and therefore better for the environment than new OEM parts. Similarly, recovered steel from ELVs is also better for the environment than manufacturing steel from raw materials.

As a result of the combination of factors, recycled parts in Japan are 50 per cent cheaper than their new OEM counterparts.

During his presentation to international recyclers, Goko supported the idea of expanding Japan’s system of displaying the environmental benefits of recycled parts internationally. “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.

The mandate for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is to enhance international cooperation and develop the Japanese and global economy by supporting socioeconomic development, recovery or economic stability in developing regions.

JICA presenter Kazunori Kitagawa spoke about JICA’s efforts to introduce an ELV management plan in Mexico. Japan, which has a unique historical relationship with Mexico, is hoping to help Mexico create an auto-recycling infrastructure that can improve its economy and sustainability.

“Some of the problems we have encountered already are: insufficient confirmation on treatment of ELVs and shredders that don’t receive sufficient ELV metal scrap from ELV dismantling sites due to a lack of reliable relationships,” Kitagawa told the group.

At the end of his presentation, Kitagawa asked the other attending associations for any advice or support they could offer to help JICA open a dialogue with Mexican dismantlers and find a recycling model that’s right for the region.

Malaysia Automotive Recyclers Association (MAARA) president Bok Wee Gwee reported that the Malaysian government recently passed their National Automotive Policy. Under this policy, the import of used cars will be prohibited by 2015 and the import of used and recycled parts will be prohibited by June 2011, which will have serious implications for approximately 5000 Malaysian businesses that deal in the recycling industry.

“MAARA is vigorously promoting membership amongst the industry,” Gwee 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.”

Gwee concluded by asking IRT attendees to join MAARA’s fight by working with them on their proposal or providing whatever information and assistance they could.

The Netherlands
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 the practices they have found useful in raising auto-recycling awareness.

In the Netherlands, the ARN plays a governing role in the recycling chain of ELVs, which includes regulating the recycling stream of plastics and metals and acting as a liaison to the Dutch Ministry of Environment. In general, ELV activity is heavily monitored in the European Union.

“The most important incentive to handing in a car in the Netherlands is the ownership tax associated with it,” 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.”

ELVs are followed from the moment of de-registration until the hulks are shredded. The process begins with affixing a unique barcode to each ELV, which ensures traceability throughout the entire chain. A dismantling company arranges hulk transport, which can only be delivered by a certified shredder.

ARN is also currently working on post-shredder technology, which they believe will be the next step in auto recycling. The goal is to have materials enter a post shredder technology plan where material can be converted into raw materials and eventually recycled. The Netherlands plans to have this technology running by 2015.

United Kingdom
Steve Fletcher presented on behalf of David Pinner, president and founder of Cro Environmental Ltd, who provided a presentation on ELV directives that will affect the UK auto recycling industry.

The European ELV Directive was published in 2000 with three main goals: to put design constraints on OEMs to decrease the use of mercury switches; design cars to be more recyclable; and to improve the industry by encouraging businesses to invest in more advanced recycling technologies.

“Each country is left to implement directives, but all [should] have to achieve the underlying recycling targets of 95 per cent by 2015,” Fletcher said reading from Pinner’s presentation.

By 95 per cent, Pinner means that 85 per cent would be considered recycled and the remaining 10 per cent would be recovery. Recovery in this definition is the use of material to produce energy, such as reclaimed vehicle fuel and the tires that will fire cement kilns.

United States
Three presenters at the IRT spoke on auto recycling activity in the United States: Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) executive VP Michael Wilson; State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA) executive director Martha Cowell and ARA University managing director Virginia Whelan.

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. Its primary intent was to stimulate auto sales; many government elements were more concerned with activity at dealerships than with how the vehicles were retired.

SCADA executive director Martha Cowell spoke about the Partners in the Solution program that SCADA runs in California. The program requires all facilities to meet licensing, environmental and safety standards.

SCADA wanted to maintain a degree of standards in order to join the association. Participating in the program means that facilities will be subjected to yearly audits to assess compliance standards. This has encouraged facilities to aim for better business standards and practices.

On other hand, the auditing process has also caused tension among the association and some members because recyclers were hesitant to accept the additional scrutiny from inspectors.

Former ARA president and managing director of ARA University Ginny Whelan spoke about the establishment of ARA University, an online initiative dedicated to auto recycling training that was started by the ARA Education Foundation in 2006.

“There are over 100,000 people employed in the auto recycling field in the US,” Whelan said. “However, there has been no other curriculum built totally for the auto recycler in any increment years of progression to step into the business. It is our vision this [website] will encompass a global training platform.”

After another full day of information, attendees were invited to relax and enjoy each other’s company during a dine-around dinner tour in Old Québec City. Tour guides led the three groups of approximately 30 through the area, highlighting the historical points of interest in the last remaining fortified city north of Mexico. It was feast for the eyes and mouth as guests stopped to enjoy their appetizers, entrées and desserts at a different restaurant for each course.

Day three
The final day of the conference was also the day of the official round table discussion. Representatives from the organizations and associations present sat at tables facing the centre of the room. Other participants were encouraged to contribute from their seats to the sides of the tables. Steve Fletcher acted as a moderator for the roundtable, steering the discussion and directing questions.

The group’s 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.

There was also much interest around using the Green Parts name and logo—which were developed by ARPAC and OARA—internationally to help spread the word about recycled parts’ economic and environmental benefits.

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.

During the roundtable, 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). The American and Malaysian associations also put their names forward to host future IRTs.

After a full day of discussion some attendees headed home while some planned to remain in Québec City to do a little sight seeing.

“This was the first IRT I have been to, so I went in with high expectations,” said Don Fraser of AADCO Auto Parts in Brampton, Ontario. “All of my expectations were met due to the hard work put in by Steve and the ARC board.”

The Auto Recyclers Association of Australia’s David Nolan was similarly upbeat about the three-day conference. “These meetings are very good for networking,” he said. “I learned a lot, especially during the tours of the facilities—it was really interesting to see how they work with the insurance companies.”

With such a successful event in Québec City, expectations are high for the next IRT, which will take place in approximately 18 months.

International Roundtable on Auto Recycling