You may have heard that cars are the most recycled consumer product on Earth. It’s true, but that doesn’t always mean that each and every car is recycled properly in a way that safeguards the environment. To find out why, we need to look a little deeper into what we mean when we talk about automotive recycling.
Depending on the vehicle, the best way to “recycle” it is to remove all of the parts that are in good condition and make them available for sale to motorists. This practice is actually “reuse” rather than “recycle” and is even better for the environment than recycling. The materials have already been acquired, processed, and formed into shape. All of the environmental costs have already been paid. Extending the life of those parts essentially means saving the cost of mining more ore, smelting it, etc.
Once the vehicle is stripped of useful parts, the remainder is processed and then typically sold as scrap. This is mostly steel, but automotive recyclers are seeing more and more aluminum, copper and precious metals. Metal recycling of all kinds is well-established, and its environmental benefits well understood. Every kilogram of steel salvaged from a car is roughly equivalent to 1.5 kilograms of iron ore that can be left in the ground. This also saves tremendously on the energy that would be used for smelting, manufacturing, etc.
These are both environmentally friendly practices in their own ways. However, the way some scrap car dealers go about those practices is anything but environmentally friendly. In addition to those useful parts and metal stock, vehicles contain various fluids, including engine oil, transmission and brake fluid, and coolant, that can cause environmental damage if they are allowed to spill or leak in to the environment.
As bad as this is, it can get worse. Cars built before 2002 often contain mercury switches in their convenience lighting systems. Mercury is incredibly toxic. A single switch, if not dealt with properly, can contaminate an entire lake. The switches are very small and easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for…or you don’t care.
The professional automotive recyclers serving the Retire Your Ride program have the knowledge, tools, and desire it takes to make sure your end-of-life vehicle is recycled properly, with no environmental damage from spilled fluids or ignored mercury switches.
When you use Retire Your Ride, you can rest easy knowing that your end-of-life vehicle will reach its final destination in the most environmentally responsible manner. You have this assurance because every recycler who participates in Retire Your Ride must abide by the Canadian Auto Recyclers’ Environmental Code (CAREC).
CAREC gives automotive recyclers the most up-to-date information and tools to prevent the hazardous materials contained in end-of-life vehicles from contaminating the ground, air, and water that we all depend on. Nor is the program a rubber stamp. All facilities are audited when they join the program to ensure they are following environmental best practice, and periodically audited again to make sure all of the latest directives are being followed.
CAREC is generally in line with all federal, provincial, and municipal regulations. If you were to place CAREC side-by-side with those regulations, you would notice that the main difference is that CAREC is considerably more stringent.
Retire Your Ride is the best program you can choose when your vehicle reaches the end of its life. Our bidding system ensures you get the best prices from local auto recyclers (always with a free tow) and you know that the car will be dealt with by professionals who take their responsibilities as environmental stewards seriously.
The price paid for vehicles through the Retire Your Ride program has risen significantly since this time last year. The average price paid out in October 2019 was $321.76. October 2020 saw that figure rise to $387.37. That’s a year over year increase of 20.4%.
Retire Your Ride uses a confidential bidding process that helps secure the highest price for your vehicle. Here’s a brief rundown of how the process works. When you submit a vehicle to Retire Your Ride, details go out to Certified Auto Recyclers in your area. These recyclers then put in the highest bid that they’re willing to pay (including a free tow). Retire Your Ride sends you the winning bid, and you can then decide if you’re willing to accept it. You can find more information on the process here and see some recent successful bids.
The price increase doesn’t only apply when we look at last year’s numbers. In fact, the average price in September 2020 was $370.76. That’s an increase of 4.4% in the last month alone. It’s always a good time to recycle your vehicle through Retire Your Ride, because you know that your car will be properly retired by Certified Auto Recyclers who take appropriate environmental safeguards. The program also pays top dollar for salvage vehicles. However, now might be an even better time than usual, as you’ll likely receive more money.
Less Salvage Equals Higher Prices So, why have prices risen recently? It can be hard to arrive at a definitive answer, but we can speculate. Modern auto recycling, such as that practiced by Certified Auto Recyclers, thrives on the sale of high-quality used parts. This is part of what distinguishes automotive recyclers from competitors who make most of their profit from scrap metal sales.
A lot of the salvage vehicles that are purchased for parts come from total loss auctions. A vehicle is considered a total loss by insurance companies when it can’t be repaired for less than the value of the vehicle. In other words, if repairs will cost $6,000 and the vehicle’s book value is only $5,000, it will likely be classified as a total loss. However, these “total loss” vehicles often have many useful parts that can be safely and economically re-used on other cars.
There have been a lot of effects from the pandemic, but one of the most noticeable is a big decrease in the total number of kilometres Canadians are driving on a daily basis. You’ve probably noticed that there just isn’t as much as traffic these days. Fewer kilometres driven means there are fewer total loss vehicles available for purchase.
What does all of this mean for you? Long story short, using Retire Your Ride to recycle your vehicle is probably going to net you more cash.
Pandemic Precautions Certified Auto Recyclers are still able to safely collect and process end-of-life vehicles in Canada during COVID-19, following the best available practices to keep you and their employees safe during this unusual time. As a class of businesses, Certified Auto Recyclers are already used to following a strict code of practice. They’ve had no trouble adding a few additional protections to deal with COVID-19.
Retire Your Ride has always been Canada’s top end-of-life vehicle scrappage program for both the environment and your wallet. All of the environmental benefits are still there, but right now the program might even better for your wallet.
Ford is an iconic brand with deep roots in Canada. In fact, Ford Motor Company of Canada was founded in August 1904, barely more than a year after Henry Ford started his car company. It’s no surprise that Ford vehicles are very popular in Canada. In some parts of the country, it seems like half the vehicles you see on the road are Ford F-150s.
The company had a particularly strong year in 2019, taking Canada’s top spot for most vehicles sold, according to statistics from the Global Automakers of Canada. Ford sold 60,582 units in 2019 to beat out its competitors. About half of that number was solely from sales of the extremely popular F-150.
It turns out that the Ford brand was also the most common vehicle brand retired through the Retire Your Ride vehicle recycling program in the last year. Out of all the company’s models, the Escape and Focus were retired the most often through the program. We have to wonder if some of those folks decided on another Ford, but also decided to upgrade to an F-150.
Of course, the vehicles being retired through Retire Your Ride and Car Heaven are not new vehicles. The average age of a vehicle retired was 2004, with the oldest being a 1962 International Harvester and the newest a 2019 VW Beetle.
The most popular vehicle recycled? The 2004 Honda Civic with 32 vehicles across Canada turned in. Think these old cars were immediately crushed? Not a chance – those Civics are sought after for their parts re-use. That keeps even more Civics on the road. Actually, the five of the Top 10 vehicles retired were Honda Civics.
However, just looking at the Top 10, we find Ford at the top of the heap. The number of Fords recycled this year and the number of new Fords sold may not be entirely coincidental. While brand loyalty isn’t quite the force in the automotive world that it once was, there are still plenty of people who have a preferred car brand and tend to stick with it. It could very well be that Ford owners deciding to retire their ride this year simply purchased another Ford.
Honda, Chevrolet, and Toyota took the second, third, and fourth spots in our list of the most recycled vehicles through Retire Your Ride in the last year. This doesn’t quite line up with new car sales, although it’s still pretty close. In terms of sales, Toyota came in second, beating out Honda in third place and Chevrolet in fourth.
So, what drove Honda to the second spot on our most recycled list? It’s hard to tell for sure, but one clue might be that the Honda Civic has consistently been one of the best-selling cars in Canada, year after year. Sooner or later, all those cars reach retirement age and can better serve their owners as either part of the recycling stream through Retire Your Ride or donated to charity through Car Heaven.
The most common colour of vehicle retired? Grey, followed by Black, Silver and Blue.
Is it nearing time to Retire Your Ride? Our program pays the highest prices for salvage vehicles and its managed by the Automotive Recyclers of Canada, the association for professional automotive recyclers. Retiring your ride through our program gives you the assurance that comes with knowing that only authorized Certified Auto Recyclers, all of whom follow a strict code of environmental practice, will handle your vehicle. You can also donate your vehicle to Car Heaven and receive a tax receipt, with all proceeds donated to a Canadian charity of your choice. Since the program started, Car Heaven has raised over $4 million for Canadian charities.
As we start to emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns in both Canada and the U.S., thoughts are turning to how we effectively reopen our economies and some of the strategies we employ to make it possible. A key thing to note, is that the way in which this is done needs to be smart and efficient.
In the automotive sector, we’ve already been hearing rumblings about the role vehicle scrappage programs might play to stimulate growth again and in the U.S. in particular, there’s been increasing talk of another Car Allowance Rebate System, (Cash for Clunkers type program) to boost new vehicle sales.
Back in 2008-09 when the original C.A.R.S program was instigated in the U.S., it paid upwards of $3000 to consumers for retiring their ride. Dealers loved the idea since it provided an artificial stimulus to new car sales during the Great Recession. The downside was that not much thought was given to disposing of the “clunkers” traded in, so the true environmental benefits were questionable.
At the same time this was happening, the Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) had been working with our federal government on a National Scrappage program which was branded “Retire Your Ride.” Compared to the U.S. program, our approach was more modest and also more thoughtful. A National Code of Practice (CoP) was established for recyclers participating in Retire Your Ride and the idea behind it wasn’t so much creating an economic stimulus as promoting emissions reduction.
Under Retire Your Ride a running, driving, licensed and insured 1995 model year or older vehicle could be traded in for $300 and then sold to or processed by a CoP accredited recycler to ensure it was properly disposed of and the parts harvested from it made available. As a result, it generated a much more favorable response than the C.A.R.S. program in the U.S. which although popular with new car dealers, angered many recyclers because it deprived them of valuable and useful parts to sell and in some respects, took perfectly good, serviceable vehicles out of circulation.
Because in Canada, the amount generated through Retire Your Ride was much less per vehicle—OEMs and dealers wanted the government to do more—citing the $3000-$4000 consumers were getting through C.A.R.S. in the U.S. To its credit, Environment Canada refused, stating that Retire Your Ride was not about selling new cars, but instead, providing an incentive to reduce emissions by offering consumers a cash payout that they could put toward a more fuel-efficient vehicle, cycling or public transit.
What ultimately happened, is that OEMs stepped up and started matching the Retire Your Ride incentives, providing up to $1000 for customers who qualified for the program. When Retire Your Ride officially ended in March 2011, the CoP was renamed the Canadian Auto Recyclers Environmental Code (CAREC) and ARC continued working directly with the OEMs to properly dispose of qualifying older vehicles. The initiative proved to be highly successful, not only for our members but the OEMs and the entire circular economy.
A little more than a decade later and with another recession expected in the months ahead, it perhaps isn’t surprising that scrappage programs are coming to the forefront once again. In Canada, with dealers facing pressure of a glut of used vehicles coming on the market and limited supplies of new vehicles expected over the next several months, the incentive to move metal is greater than it has been for some time, therefore the idea of a scrappage program is very appealing. Yet we should also take this opportunity to look at this from a holistic and environmental perspective.
Since 2008, we have seen growing collaboration among environmental groups and the creation of networks such as the Canada Cleantech Alliance. Like dealers, they agree with incentives to retire older vehicles and purchase newer ones; but believe that these incentives should be directly targeted to the purchase of electrified vehicles and developing the charging infrastructure to support them.
From our perspective at ARC, we see significant value in discussing the support of such an initiative, not only from the legacy of Retire Your Ride, but the fact that under CAREC, the infrastructure to support a similar program is still in place, including the database and network of more than 350 accredited recyclers across Canada. Additionally, ARC has and continues to work with Plug N’ Drive in Ontario to provide incentives for consumers to purchase a used EV as well as helping develop training and guidelines to help accredited recyclers properly dispose of retired hybrids and electric vehicles, so there are green aspects in place today that weren’t available a decade ago.
Although scrappage programs do have the potential to cause more harm than good (they can damage the automotive eco-system by denying people affordable, personal transportation and reducing the circulation of and demand for used parts, which in turn impacts the cost and frequency of repairs and ultimately makes vehicle ownership accessible to fewer people), they can, if done responsibly and collaboratively through a network of accredited recyclers, promote clean air, provide funds for people who need them as well as bolstering the circular economy—something that Retire Your Ride has already and clearly demonstrated.