Toronto, Ontario — December 21, 2016 — The government of Canada has pledged to ban asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018. The comprehensive ban will include new regulations that ban the manufacture, use, import and export of asbestos and establish new federal workplace health and safety rules that will drastically limit the risk of people coming into contact with asbestos on the job.
“Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is of utmost importance to the government,” said Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, during a press conference announcing the upcoming ban. “There is irrefutable evidence that has led us to take concrete action to ban asbestos. Canadians can be confident my colleagues and I will continue to work hard to ensure their families, co-workers and communities will be protected from the harmful impacts of asbestos exposure so they may lead healthy, secure lives.”
The Automotive Recyclers of Canada (ARC) strongly supports the federal government’s announcement.
Every year approximately 1.6 million vehicles reach their end-of-life in Canada. These end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) require proper end-of-life management including depollution, dismantling for parts salvage and metals recycling. Amongst materials such as fuels, oils, mercury switches and air conditioning refrigerants (such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons) automotive recyclers must also contend with brake pads that may contain asbestos.
While vehicle manufacturers do not install asbestos brake pads, aftermarket brake pads are one of the largest categories of asbestos containing products imported into Canada. Canada imported more than $100-million in asbestos brake pads and linings between 2005 and 2015. Imports of asbestos containing brake pads into Canada continue to increase unabated.
On April 5, 2016 the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change promulgated regulations requiring automotive recyclers to recycle ELV to set environmental standards. These standards include the removal of asbestos brake pads prior to compaction of vehicle hulks in preparation for shipment to metals recyclers.
Steve Fletcher, Managing Director of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada noted, “For an auto recycler there is no way to know whether a brake pad contains asbestos or not. In Ontario, every pad will need to be removed and where the recycler encounters an asbestos brake pad there is inevitably going to be some release of asbestos particulate into the air.”
Fletcher also noted that the government’s announcement is a tremendous step forward in protecting the health of workers that dismantle and recycle ELVs. “This policy change could not have come soon enough,” he said.