When Rob Smith purchased Erin Auto Recyclers a few years ago, he set several major goals for himself. The first was to operate the business in a sustainable manner; second, to continuously improve on his practices; and third, to change overall public perception of what automotive recyclers are all about. Through a number of initiatives, including the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program (ODWSP), Smith was able to achieve these goals and more with help from CVC’s Rural Outreach Team.
Through ODWSP funding, a Pollution Prevention Review was completed to provide recommendations on “best business practices” that could help protect the quality of groundwater flowing into the nearby municipal wellhead. Some projects that Erin Auto Recyclers implemented as a result of the review were connecting to the municipal water supply, decommissioning a well and upgrading an aging septic system. Smith credits CVC with “helping us in this vision by not being prohibitive towards us, but by helping us financially and technically to obtain a common goal, protecting of our drinking water resources.”
Since joining Switch Out in 2009, Erin Auto Recyclers has recovered 950 automotive mercury switches, preventing emission of 806 grams of mercury.
Erin Auto Recyclers continues to improve its land management practices. The company installed a roof over the dismantling area to prevent runoff issues from rain. They also installed a “surface water monitoring well” as an early warning system for groundwater quality issues. Perhaps most notably, Erin Auto Recyclers became involved in Switch Out, a national program to remove mercury switches from the ABS braking systems in end-of-life vehicles. Through the Switch Out program, Erin Auto Recyclers became the first recycler in Canada to remove these harmful neurotoxin-laden switches. All recyclers in Canada are now required to do so.
“We’re full steam ahead,” Smith jokes about what he did to fulfill his goal of working for a cleaner community. “Maybe some day I will be able to eat off my ground.”
“I found that if you’re serious about getting help to do your projects, CVC is more than willing to direct you to available funding, even outside its programs. CVC’s support and guidance throughout this process has been invaluable to us, and if anything it has heightened our motivation to do just that little more to go above and beyond standard business practices.”
ODWSP is a completely voluntary and confidential funding program. Erin Auto Recyclers has given full permission to share the information disclosed in this article.