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Mercury Switch and Salvage Yard By-law


East Gwillimbury  amended the Town’s Salvage Yard By-law to require auto recyclers in Town to remove the mercury switches associated with convenience lighting prior to sending the vehicle remains off site for shredding or melting.  To advance this initiative East Gwillimbury consulted with stakeholders and determined convenience mercury switches are generally being voluntarily removed by our local recyclers.

The By-law requires local recyclers to remove and dispose of the mercury switches associated with convenience lighting in accordance with the guide established by the Clean Air Foundation entitled “Switch Out Auto Dismantler’s Guide to Mercury Switch Collection”. This guide informs the recyclers of the location of the switches, make and models that are likely to have mercury switches, method of collection and a method of disposal.

Our auto recyclers have also offered to receive, dismantle and include mercury from thermostats in their switch-out program.

The removal of mercury switches associated with anti-locking brake systems is suggested to be a second phase of this By-law as more dialogue with local recyclers and OARA needs to occur to come up with a viable standard and process.

East Gwillimbury is working with Ontario Auto Recyclers Association (OARA) and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to encourage similar bylaw enforcement in other municipalities across Canada.

Switch Out Program

There are 13 to 15 tonnes of mercury in vehicles on the road in Canada. Without a collection program in place, virtually all of that mercury would be released to the environment. If mercury-containing switches are not removed from cars before they enter the waste stream, mercury emissions result as a by-product of crushing and shredding auto hulks to recycle the steel. Once in the environment, mercury can have a significant negative impact on human and animal health.

Switch Out is an award-winning program from the Clean Air Foundation, dedicated to safely and effectively reducing the amount of mercury entering the environment from the automotive recycling sector. Mercury is a potent and dangerous neurotoxin, which is dangerous to the health of people and wildlife.

Switch Out works with automobile recyclers to collect mercury pellets from switches in end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) processed at their facilities before they are crushed and sent for shredding.