Individual automotive recyclers from Australia, California, Georgia, Illinois, Japan, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York and Texas were also at the meeting, as was a collision repair specialist.
The Automotive Recyclers Associa-tion's (ARA) President Jim Watson, whose family owns an operates an automotive recycling facility in Blue Island, Ilinois, welcomed the group and thanked them for freely giving their time and talent and going to the expense to travel great distances to convene the meeting. ARA, based in Fairfax, Virginia, represents recyclers throughout the United States and in 10 countries around the world.
Major industry issues discussed
Key points of discussion centered around issues for international consideration, air bag use and reuse, salvage acquisition, centralizing and codifying parts coding, licensing, certification, safety training, providing input to auto manufacturers to design automobiles with the understanding that vehicles will be recycled and need to be designed to allow auto recyclers to remove all the hazardous fluids that are contained in automobiles, improving the industry's public image and raising the awareness of governments and the public as to the valuable service, environmental stewardship, and positive economic impact responsible automotive recycling has.
More alike than different
During their discussions, the group of global auto recycling leaders decided they share more common interests than they have differences. One common interest and concern is the perception of the industry and its individual members as shade tree, backyard auto enthusiasts who purchase wrecked or junked cars and strip them for parts for personal use and sales to individuals.
Automotive recycling is a multi-billion dollar global industry (over $25 billion in the U.S. alone), subject to strict environmental rules and regulations. While there are still small single facility operators, there are many large multiple location operators, and some who have cross industry business interests as well. Members of those organizations represented by the executives who attended the International Roundtable (IRT) are successful, environmentally compliant, so-phisticated business operations managed by skilled, educated, talented and forward thinking businessmen and women.
Beyond geographic boundaries
Salvage availability and acquisition and the correct and safe removal of useable parts, along with the proper collection of hazardous fluids and the disposal of end-of-life vehicles (ELV) are concerns that transcend geographic boundaries. The economic impact of automotive recycling to the consumer, auto repair facilities, collision repair shops, steel recycling industry, environment, the preservation of natural resources and governments is astounding.
In 2004, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported that over 14.5 million tons of steel were collected from ELVs and placed back in the industrial production stream. Ward's Motor Vehicle Facts & Figures (2005) reports that motor vehicles are the most highly recycled product on the planet, over 28% more than paper, nearly double that of aluminum, and over four times that of glass.
In addition to preserving precious natural resources and saving on landfill deposits, recycling automobiles reintroduces enough steel into the production stream to build nearly 13 million new automobiles and generates 46,000 jobs. Ten of millions of barrels of oil are preserved each year by recycling auto parts instead of manufacturing new parts, and many recycled parts are warranteed by the recycled parts supplier.
ARA Executive Vice President George K. Eliades, CAE, commented at the closing of the meeting, "the International Roundtable was a significant step forward towards unifying automotive recycling worldwide. Its significance is in the recognition of the importance and value of opening communication, exploring opportunities for cooperation and in creating the basis for a better understanding of possible approaches to effectively solve problems confronting automotive recycling, many of which are common across the globe. We anticipate future meetings to improve cooperation as a means to solve and prevent industry problems, and increase member profitability."
For more information on ARA, visit www.a-r-a.org or call (703) 385-1001.