500,000 Switches and Counting. Award-winning environmental program passes milestone recovering mercury.

December 20, 2011 PRESS RELEASE

An award-winning environmental program that prevents mercury once used in older vehicles from being released into the atmosphere has hit a major milestone. The program, called “Switch Out”, has recently been recognized in the Ontario Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence.

The Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) are proud to announce that the national Switch Out program has collected over 500 thousand mercury-containing switches from end-of-life vehicles that are being recycled.

Since its inception ten years ago, the Switch Out program has been removing, collecting and managing mercury-containing switches – typically used in small amounts in convenience lighting switches and anti-lock braking systems — from scrapped vehicles before they are flattened, shredded and recycled into new steel. The automotive industry stopped installing these switches years ago, but these older cars are still entering the recycling stream.

“Switch Out is a great example of industry partners across the country working together to take action to protect the environment,” said CVMA President Mark Nantais. “We look forward to continued efforts in recovering even more mercury-containing switches with our auto-recycling and dismantling partners.”

“Canada’s steel producers are proud of the achievements of Switch Out,” said CSPA President Ron Watkins. “Recovering half a million mercury-containing switches is indicative of the collaborative effort among the steel, auto and recycling/dismantling industries to attain a common environmental goal of pollution prevention.”

Switch Out was launched in 2001 by Summerhill Impact as a local initiative in Ontario and British Columbia. The CSPA and CVMA have been supporting and co-funding the Switch Out program since 2008 as a national program to meet federal pollution prevention requirements regarding mercury switches in end-of-life vehicles.

Through the support of the two partner associations, working with Summerhill Impact to deliver the program, Switch Out has expanded to all provinces and territories across the country and ramped up its recovery efforts significantly. Vehicle manufacturers have provided practical educational materials to assist vehicle recyclers across Canada, and steel producers have implemented a “zero mercury” recycled steel purchasing policy.

The Automotive Recyclers of Canada and the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries are also involved in promoting the Switch Out program to their membership, and participate in the program advisory committee.

For more information, please contact:

Ron Watkins
President Canadian Steel Producers Association

Mark Nantais
Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association

About the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA)
The CSPA is the national voice of Canada’s $12-14 billion steel and steel pipe and tube industry, employing some 25,000 people. The CSPA is committed to ensuring the sustainable success of a strong and internationally competitive Canadian steel sector. Through the Association, member companies seek to advance policies to advance our competitiveness, innovation, environmental performance, skilled and productive workforce, and community responsibility. These objectives are further advanced by working to ensure free and fair steel trade as well as a globally competitive business environment. Please visit www.canadiansteel.ca.

About the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA)
The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association is the industry association that has represented Canada’s leading manufacturers of light and heavy duty motor vehicles for more than 80 years. Its membership includes Chrysler Canada Inc.; Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited; General Motors of Canada Limited; and Navistar Canada, Inc. Collectively its members account for 65% of vehicles produced in Canada, operate 5 vehicle assembly plants as well as engine and components plants, and have over 1,300 dealerships. 125,000 jobs are directly tied to vehicle assembly in Canada. Please visit www.cvma.ca.