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.

From January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2017, Canada’s steel and auto industries 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.

Switch Out provided 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 was 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 was unprecedented and was key to the success of the program.

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

  • Stellantis (FCA Canada Inc.)
  • 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 totalled 561, 681 (at the end of the program). In accordance with the P2 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 17, 550

The program has ended (as of January 1, 2018).  Recyclers and dismantlers efforts are recognized and are encouraged to continue to collect and manage every end of life vehicle switch.