International: Finding common ground
I was recently interviewed by a consultant to the French government doing a formal international poll of how other countries get end-of-life vehicles into the legitimate industry’s hands as opposed to those of the unlicensed underground economy.
It was an interesting discussion to see where Canada is in making sure that the majority of vehicles coming off the road are processed by the right entity.
In France, they’ve used Authorized Treatment Facilities (ATFs) for the last decade or so. These are very regulated businesses and they’ve been working with them to develop the right oversight and standards, but they’re still finding that the underground economy flourishes because the person who owns the car at end-of-life is making an economic decision – a legal ATF can pay a certain amount for a vehicle, but someone who cuts corners may be able to pay more for the vehicle.
In Canada, we’re a series of related provinces that essentially makes their own environmental rules. You can’t say that Canada as an entity has a specific way of dealing with auto recyclers, but we’re our way to doing that. We’re at the point where we’re helping governments to identify what auto recycling is, who an auto recycler is, and what they should be doing.
Where to start
Each province is at a different step along that development scale, but it basically reaffirmed that our process of identifying an auto recycler, putting standards in place that a good business can and should meet and beginning to measure them against that target is the first step that we have to take in order to get more vehicles processed at end-of-life properly.
International conversations like these create an opportunity to reach out to our own government and let them know we’re talking globally about how we’re positioned in Canada. We think we’re on the right path and we need to keep going down that path with more provinces. Hopefully, we can reach a point where there’s enough authorized treatment facilities and licensed recyclers that we can communicate to consumers to take their car to a licensed auto recycler because there’s one in their neighbourhood.
The Canadian Auto Recyclers Environmental Code (CAREC) is the voluntary code of practice that the Association put in place about seven years ago to help bring in standards, and France was blown away that we had something voluntary happening ahead of the regulations, while they had to put regulations in place first.
And that’s where we are in Ontario, trying to put it in place a sound regulatory model and make it work, and then working with other provinces to show them the benefits of having a regulated industry and knowing where these cars go.
Through events like the International Round Table that we hosted, we have been able to develop international connections in the industry. These help show government that what we are proposing in Canada is not something revolutionary but something the rest of the world is already working on.
So, it was a really interesting conversation to say Yes, you’re doing the right thing – keep doing it, but also keep reaching out to the rest of the world to find out where they are and what pitfalls they’re coming across. There’s a lot we have to learn on our own along the way, but we can share that knowledge with each other and get faster down the official lifecycle of how cars are properly treated.