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CAREC pushes auto recyclers towards excellence

DalbertSince the Automotive Recyclers Association of Atlantic Canada (ARAAC) started requiring third party audits from its Members in 2010, the audit scores have steadily increased. At that time, the average audit score was 82%. Now, with steady improvements and a little friendly competition among business owners, today’s averages are over 88%.

The Canadian Auto Recycling Environmental Code (CAREC) was developed and put in place by our national association, the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC). It is a voluntary code with a corresponding third party audit that ensures minimum compliance but also goes well beyond with a wide variety of industry best practices. CAREC has become an invaluable resource for automotive recyclers, regardless of size or location. Its unique scoring system and audit protocols have been adopted by auto recycling associations around the world.

It is CAREC that sets ARAAC Members apart from the rest of the industry. Members pay a third party inspector to review their premises and make sure they are using best practices to minimize the environmental footprint of end of life vehicles. This is completely voluntary – there are no governing bodies that tell them they have to incur this expense. They volunteer to do this out of respect for the environment, and for the pride associated with being CAREC-certified.

CAREC has the following 3 goals:

1.     To convey the legal and mandatory requirements before, during, and after the recycling process and promote best management practices within the industry;
2.     To promote pollution prevention and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in the vehicle recovery industry to reduce the ecological impact of the automotive sector; and
3.     To ensure that there is a consistent set of practices that are aligned, as much as possible, with federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations, as well as with product and industry stewardship programs.

The standards, guidelines, and scoring protocols were produced by industry professionals and field tested across Canada at well over 300 locations. In other industries, such as fishing or farming, often the regulations come from government and the industry has to adapt, and that is not always the best way to harness innovation and get total buy-in. Recently in Atlantic Canada, we completed six environmental audits – five re-audits and one new Member audit, and all of those recyclers passed with flying colors. With the averages increasing every year, you begin to wonder – Why is this?

First of all, ARAAC Members have adopted new systems to better manage end-of-life vehicles, and CAREC has helped them to better plan these systems. The Auditors have seen hundreds of auto recyclers and they begin to learn what works and what doesn’t. They act as a resource to help Members solve problems.

Secondly, comes the natural ability of entrepreneurs to compete. At the last association meeting I attended, I heard numerous members banter amongst themselves about who had the highest score. I know the ones that were towards the lower end will push and develop systems until they can assume those bragging rights. The association has also been at the forefront in helping Members market to the public, insurers, repairers and governments about the power of certification.

In 2016 there will be approximately 25 re-audits in Atlantic Canada and a few new audits, and my prediction is an unprecedented average score of 90%.

Why is any of this relevant you may ask?

Automotive recycling is a unique industry that is often overlooked by the public and regulators. Consequently the rules and regulations for businesses active in the sector are often out of date. And as a small sector it is difficult to invest in developing effective policies and procedures. However, end-of-life vehicle processing, left unchecked, can have tremendous negative consequences for the environment and public safety. Voluntary adoption of a Code or certification process helps demonstrate that an effective solution can be put in place by any size of business, and that business is actually better run and more profitable when they adopt these best practices. The move from a voluntary Code to mandatory regulation is also easier for government and industry when the standards are in place and working. But businesses require a level playing field with all participants operating to the same standards.

Through collaboration with government, PEI has updated its regulations overseeing the ELV processing sector, using CAREC as a base to start from. The government benefitted from the work the association had undertaken and now they have a more modern platform to protect the environment and stimulate economic advances.

CAREC is a free resource for the industry to learn best practices and we encourage all professional auto recyclers throughout Canada to adopt the Code into their regular business practices.

I am Dalbert Livingstone. I am a proud Auto Recycler from PEI, and I have a CAREC audit score of 93%!

Dalbert Livingstone
Owner, Island Auto Supply, Charlottetown PEI
Vice President, Automotive Recyclers Association of Atlantic Canada (ARAAC)

Auto & Trucking Atlantic, January 2016