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 Mike Shesterkin called on the repair industry to be more environmentally aware during a recent Guild 21 conference call.

By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario -- October 9, 2015 -- Industry information organization Guild 21 hosted a conference call last week calling on the collision repair industry to become more environmentally aware. Industry consultant Mike Shesterkin led the call. He encouraged the collision repair industry to adopt what is known as a Triple Bottom Line.

The phrase Triple Bottom Line refers to companies that account for financial results as well as social and environmental factors. The phrase has been tossed around at major global corporations for years. Shesterkin suggested it was time the collision repair industry adopt the notion.

“Companies have taken far too many risks ... what's emerging on a global scale is that the old paradigm, the old single line bottom line, is out. What is the right thing to do? What is our responsibility to the environment? This is what we have to ask,” said Shesterkin. “We're talking about growing environmental impacts and providing jobs. These are the two key things that link back to that triple bottom line.”

Key to creating “the body shop of the future,” as Shesterkin put it, is to get industry stakeholders such as shop managers, insurance companies, OEMs and others to work together to “lower the impacts on the environment over the automobile life cycle.”

Making the industry sustainable and cyclical rather than the linear “take, make, waste” model, which is the necessary next step. “It’s getting harder to make new things,” said Shesterkin. “Making the fullest possible use of already manufactured items is an important way to avert the environmental instability that threatens the entire economic system.” 

Shesterkin encouraged insurance companies and collision repair experts to make fewer collision total-loss estimates and use more remanufactured parts. Over the last decade and a half the percentage of vehicles declared a total-loss has increased from 9 percent in 2000 to 14 percent by 2014. This is unacceptable, says Shesterkin. “There is something fundamentally wrong” about this increase. To cap that increase the collision repair industry needs to adopt a policy that would see total losses only declared for safety reasons.

Shesterkin went on to point out that remanufactured parts save between 70 and 92 percent of the energy, water, chemical products and production waste used to make new parts. Recycling more of the cars that come into collision repair shops would also save room in landfills.

“One of the biggest misapprehensions in the industry today is that cars are recycles. But only 20 percent of a body panel is made from recyclable materials,” he said. “The increasing number of total economic loss write-offs is adding to environmental degradation, by creating unnecessary toxic flows and carbon emissions, and subtracting from social capital, by taking meaningful work from within local economies.”

In North American alone, millions of vehicles enter the salvage market annually; many of these vehicles are serviceable, but because the “system” externalizes the negative impacts to society and the environment, they simply wind-up in the metal shredder.

“Many of us are frustrated by what we see as the unintended consequences of total economic losses: angry and lost customers, waste of materials, loss of repair volume,” said Shesterkin. “Once you have something formed. Why would you take it away? If none of this is destroyed and we can repair it safely? Why would we throw it away? The point here stuff is not getting easier to make. It's more complex. We need to be smarter. Rather than just throwing things away, we need to reuse. We need to think about whether we write off the whole vehicle.”

Most recently Shesterkin has been working with AkzoNobel to advance the sustainability movement within the collision repair industry. He began his career in the OEM paint industry working in product development where he made significant contributions to the development of one of the industry’s first and most successful waterborne colour-coat systems.

“What can we do about this as an industry? We need to come together and figure out. If we form a coalition that would advance this sort of thinking. Work across all stakeholders to come up with a model of a green garage. What needs to be done to get there,” he said. Shesterkin also mentioned he was looking to create a roundtable in the later part of this year with the aim of creating a coalition dedicated to these issues.


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