Auto recyclers from around the world gather in Québec City for the IRT
It started as a simple forum–an exchange of ideas and discussion of what the auto recycling industry could do to improve the business.
Currently, in its 5th year, the International Roundtable on Auto Recycling–IRT for short–has become a global phenomenon, uniting leaders and scholars in auto recycling, insurance, repairs and government in one forum over the course of a few days.
This year, the Auto Recyclers of Canada (ARC) played host to the IRT in Québec City. Representatives from Canada, US, Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, and Malaysia met from September 19-21, 2010 to discuss the issues and challenges affecting the world-wide industry.
The three-day event began on a high note, sparking new friendships and networking opportunities and facility tours at Pièces D’autos Dumont Inc., a family-run business who also hosted the ARPAC convention the same week; Lecavalier Auto Parts, one of the oldest auto recycling facilities in Canada and a second-generation family business; and LKQ Pintendre Autos Inc., one of Canada’s largest auto recycling facilities.
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 tours 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 the next day’s jam-packed schedule.
Day two consisted of global presentations and country and association reports. It began with an opening message from Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association executive director (OARA) and ARC managing director Steve Fletcher, who also acted as the discussion moderator and host.
Ed MacDonald, ARC chairman, formally welcomed the group in the dialectics of each of the visiting countries. He also challenged 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, speakers presented snapshots of the successes and challenges auto recycling has seen their regions recently.
Automotive Recyclers’ Association (ARA) executive vice president Michael 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. It’s primary intent was to stimulate auto sales; many government elements didn’t take the recyclers into account.
As the conversations continued, Canada’s Retire Your Ride emerged as a better model due to the government consultation with automotive recyclers, its more modest scope and cooperation with OEMs.
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 what practices they’ve found useful in raising auto recycling awareness.
“The most important incentive to handing in a car in the Netherlands is the ownership tax,” 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.”
During the Japan Automotive Recyclers Association presentation, director of automotive environmental analysis Minoru Goko proposed the idea of marketing recycled parts with a points system of CO2 rates. The CO2 reduction rate of recycled parts is lower and therefore, better for the environment than the rate of new OEM parts.
Recycled steel from end-of-life vehicles is also better than iron stone from the steel manufacturer process.
“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.
In Malaysia, the import of used automotive parts and components will be prohibited starting June 2011, which will put Malaysian automotive recyclers in serious trouble.
“MAARA is vigorously promoting membership amongst the industry,” said Malaysia Automotive Recyclers Association president Gwee Bok Wee 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.”
Mexico, who are currently in the preliminary stages of creating an end-of-life management plan, have enlisted the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“Some of the problems we have encountered already are insufficient confirmation on treatment of ELVs [end-of-life vehicles] and shredders don’t receive sufficient ELV metal scrap from ELV dismantling sites due to a lack of reliable relationship,” said JICA’s Kazunori Kitagawa.
Kitagawa used the IRT as an opportunity to seek input from the world’s established automotive recycling associations–many of whom had offered their continued support by the conference’s end.
After another full day of information, attendees were invited to relax and enjoy each others’ company during a dine-around dinner tour. It was a feast for the eyes and mouth. Attendees split up into three groups to tour through old Québec, stopping to enjoy their appetizers, entrées and desserts at a different restaurant for each course.
Day three of the IRT conference was the last day of the conference and the official roundtable discussion.
The 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.
“We are generating a number of resources that will come out of this event,” Steve Fletcher said. “We are committed to issuing a CD of some the resource materials and some of the speeches. My goal is to get that to all of the associations and for the delegates as well.”
The group agreed to share the Green Parts name and logo, which are owned by OARA and ARPAC. 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.
All members of the discussion agreed that having an internationally recognized brand would be beneficial to the selling recycled parts’ environmental merits.
Finally, 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). Both the ARA and the MAARA also put their names in to host future IRTs.
“These meetings are very good for networking,” said David Nolan, who was representing the Auto Recyclers Association of Australia. “I learned a lot, especially during the tours of the facilities–it was really interesting to see how they work with the insurance companies.”
Nolan was particularly interested in the conversations surrounding the implementation of the US Cash for Clunkers program. Australia is getting ready to establish its own program to take older vehicles off the road. “It was clear that the US government had not thought [Cash for Clunkers] out…Obviously we’re going to work with the Aussie industry to make sure all the problems are ironed out before it’s implemented.”
AADCO Auto Parts’ Don Fraser was similarly delighted with how much he learned during the three-day conference. “This was the first IRT I have been to, so I went in with high expectations,” Fraser said. “All of my expectations were met due to the hard work put in by Steve and the ARC board. The Sunday yard tours were great…Even the discussions on the bus were enlightening,” he continued.
“Monday was packed with speakers, but every one had there time and made the most of it with informative topics.”