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"Zero Mercury"

The Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) has long supported mercury removal from automotive scrap. Foreseeing upcoming federal regulations on mercury removal and understanding that such regulations would have an impact on a...


The Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) has long supported mercury removal from automotive scrap. Foreseeing upcoming federal regulations on mercury removal and understanding that such regulations would have an impact on a recycler’s ability to process and sell scrap, CARI sought a simple and cost-effective solution for its members. In 2000, CARI supported Switch Out, Pollution Probe’s pilot mercury switch removal program in the province of Ontario. A year later, the Switch Out program was transferred to the Clean Air Foundation (now Summerhill Impact), and expanded to additional provinces.

In December 2007, the federal government introduced a regulation requiring both automotive manufacturers and steel mills to prepare pollution prevention (P2) plans to eliminate mercury releases from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). Rather than installing expensive monitoring systems, Canada’s steel and automotive industries agreed to fund a national vehicle mercury switch recovery program, building on Switch Out. CARI and the Automotive Recyclers of Canada agreed to support this program by providing their members with information and educational material, and by sitting on the Switch Out Advisory Committee.

Recently CARI, in partnership with Summerhill Impact, sent its members a bulletin advising of the new “Zero Mercury” scrap purchasing policy adapted by the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA). The new policy was announced in the CSPA’s 2010 Environmental Performance Report, and affects all businesses supplying automotive scrap to CSPA member companies. The requirements arising from the new policy state that businesses must provide evidence their product is mercury-free by participating in a mercury switch removal program:

“Scrap suppliers are required to demonstrate that they have programs in place to identify, remove, track and properly dispose of all sources of mercury in the scrap sold to CSPA member companies. Member companies may audit scrap suppliers to ensure that such requirements are being met.”

In the event of an audit, a business selling scrap to one of the nine CSPA member companies will need to demonstrate their participation in a program to recover mercury sources, their removal of all mercury sources, and the proper tracking and disposal of mercury sources. A business that cannot demonstrate they meet these requirements might not be able to sell their scrap. Participating in Switch Out will fulfill these requirements for businesses recovering automotive switches. The program is free and operates nationally. Unfortunately, no formal programs currently exist for recovering mercury switches from white goods, but businesses are encouraged to remove and safely store these switches.

Each link in the scrap steel supply chain has an important role to play in preventing mercury pollution and staying compliant with the “Zero Mercury” Scrap Purchasing Policy. Switch Out offers all businesses in this chain the necessary tools to be compliant. The program offers businesses dealing with ELVs free mercury switch collection kits, along with pre-paid shipping labels for the kits’ return. The Switch Out team will also provide confirmation of a company’s participation in the program that they can supply to purchasers. In addition to collection kits, Switch Out now provides outreach and education kits for businesses looking to support the program. Those businesses that purchase only pre-processed vehicles can contact Switch Out to ensure they are purchasing from participating suppliers.

For more information on Switch Out and to view the official “Zero Mercury” Scrap Purchasing Policy, visit www.canadiansteel.ca/media/2010/cspa-environmental-performance-report-en.pdf

Tracy Shaw is Manager, Communications and Membership for the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) in Ottawa, Ontario. Contact Tracy at tracy@cari-acir.org


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