Ontario should kick-start a national program that would regulate and license the recycling and disposal of old vehicles, a group representing auto recyclers and manufacturers said Wednesday.
More than half a million passenger vehicles in the province require decommissioning each year, said the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association.
More than 95 per cent are processed “to various degrees,” but two out of three so-called “end of life” vehicles aren’t managed to any environmental standard, it said.
Creating an industry-led environmental management system would create jobs, keep pollutants out of the environment and wouldn’t cost consumers – or the government – a dime, said Steve Fletcher, the association’s executive director.
Recyclers wouldn’t need to charge consumers because they already make enough money from each vehicle to recover their costs, unlike electronics, he said.
It varies depending on the vehicle, but generally they can extract $300 to $500 from a vehicle that costs $100 to $200 to recycle.
“There’s virtually no place in Ontario that even the lightest, scrappiest, rusted-out vehicle does not have enough value to cover that cost,” Mr. Fletcher said.
Other industry-led programs are usually funded through eco fees – a politically toxic issue for the governing Liberals, who are seeking a third term.
They were forced to scrap new eco fees on household products last year after a public backlash.
But Mr. Fletcher said all that’s needed from the government are regulations and a licensing regime to certify recyclers and make sure they’re following the rules.
Environment Minister John Wilkinson wouldn’t say if the government would implement the program, but said he’s open to the idea.
“We’re always looking for that sweet spot in the economy where we are protecting our environment and creating good-paying jobs,” he said.
The province already has environment laws that cover the safe recycling of automobiles, including rules that deal with emissions, soil and water, Mr. Wilkison said.
“We strictly enforce those rules,” he added.
The association, which has the support of many auto manufacturers and the Canadian Automobile Association, hopes that if Ontario implements a common standard for managing old vehicles, other jurisdictions in Canada and across North America will follow suit.
“We’ll be working with recyclers to make sure that we can, in fact, take it across and convert this program into a national program,” said Mark Nantis, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturer’s Association, whose members include General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and Navistar.
Eighty-five per cent of a typical vehicle is readily recyclable, he said.
But the Progressive Conservatives don’t appear to buy the group’s claim that the new system won’t create new eco fees.
Longtime Tory Elizabeth Witmer refused to say if her party would endorse the program and instead touted its commitment to protecting the environment.
“We’re not going to consider anything that has any possible new fees or taxes,” she said.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said he likes the idea, but would have to see more details before endorsing it.
“I’m always encouraged and want to support industry-led initiatives that develop environmentally responsible standards like this and that create green jobs, while at the same time removing the costs burden of waste diversion from taxpayers,” he said.
“I think that’s a good thing.”