Switch Out program begins latest collection "sweep" ahead of Earth Day 2014
As Earth Day approaches on April 22, an award-winning environmental program has begun its latest collection “sweep” of mercury-containing components from end-of-life (ELV) vehicles before they are recycled to make new automotive and other steel products we use in our everyday lives. Steel is Canada’s most recycled product and in 2013, members of the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) recycled some seven million tonnes of scrap steel. That is roughly the equivalent of the steel contained in seven million cars.
The Switch Out program, jointly funded by the CSPA and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), works with over 1,000 scrap yards, vehicle recyclers and dismantlers across Canada to have them remove mercury-containing switches that were used for convenience lighting and anti-lock braking systems from ELVs. The current collection sweep continues until this Friday, April 18th. While mercury used in these components was discontinued over 10 years ago, vehicles from that era are still being recycled.
The purpose of the Switch Out program is to remove, recover and properly manage this mercury safely in older vehicles, before the scrap from these vehicles go through the recycling process to create new steel products.
Some highlights about the remarkably successful national Switch Out program include:
• More than 450,000 mercury-containing switches have been removed and disposed of properly since CSPA and CVMA began funding Switch Out in 2008
• This translates to about 380 kilograms of mercury recovered since then
• The Program was recognized with the 2011 Ontario Minister of the Environment’s Award for Environmental Excellence
Interestingly, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment has proposed new recycling standards for ELVs, requiring the removal of various pollutants and contaminants, including mercury. Through Switch Out, the CSPA and CVMA are ahead of the curve with the recovery of mercury over a multi-year period.