Mercury Switch Recovery

Protecting our Environment

On December 29, 2007, Environment and Climate Change Canada published a Notice in the Canada Gazette requiring the development of a pollution-prevention plan regarding the release of mercury from switches in end-of-life vehicles, including the number of mercury switches collected and the estimated capture rate, be reported publicly each year.

The switches had been used in vehicle convenience lights (under the hood or in the trunk) and in anti-lock braking systems. Manufacturers voluntarily phased out the switches in new automobiles as of January 1, 2003.

Since January 1, 2008, Canada’s steel and auto industries have jointly supported and funded a national program to remove mercury-containing switches from end-of-life vehicles before the vehicles are flattened, shredded and recycled into new steel.

The National Mercury Switch Recovery program is delivered by Scout Environmental (formerly the Summerhill Impact), a national not-for-profit organization.

Switch Out (http://www.switchout.ca/) provides vehicle recyclers and dismantlers with practical educational materials as well as the infrastructure for the collection, removal and management of the mercury-containing switches.

In addition to the steel and automotive industries, the program is supported by Canadian automotive recyclers and dismantlers and their respective associations: the Automotive Recyclers of Canada and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries. This collaborative effort among the steel, automotive and recycling industries is unprecedented and has been key to the success of the program.

The following manufacturers participate in the national mercury switch recovery effort through the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association:

  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada
  • Ford Motor Company of Canada
  • General Motors of Canada
  • Mazda Canada
  • Nissan Canada
  • Porsche Cars Canada
  • Subaru Canada
  • Volkswagen Group Canada

 

Successful Results

The total number of switches collected and managed since 2008 is 543,502 (as of February 2017). In accordance with the Notice requirement for public reporting of the results of the program on an annual basis, please see below:

Metric 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Collection (# of switches) 64,011 112,167 76,866 67,542 61,055 52,027 47,031 34,140 27,655

The program continues to operate and collect and recover vehicle mercury switches.  Recyclers and dismantlers efforts are recognized and are encouraged to continue with their support and efforts to collect every end of life vehicle switch.