The Protecting Alberta Industry from Theft Act is now more than two years old, and while the legislative changes have made the process of buying catalytic converters more stringent, Albertan auto recyclers are voicing concerns that such sales are still happening regularly—albeit, under the table and off the books.
A recent CBC report featured Calgary-area catalytic converter dealer and owner of Big House Converters, Eric Grand-Maison, who feels that the province’s new law, first introduced in November of 2020, simply misses the mark. “It hasn’t done anything to stop the theft. Theft has only increased, not decreased,” he said. The act, which was introduced as a way to curb the theft of the highly sought-after part, requires that all auto recyclers and scrap metal dealers report all sales of catalytic converters to local law enforcement, collect copies of the buyer’s photo ID, and accept only traceable forms of currency, such as cheques or e-transfers. “We were doing an average of about 5,000-10,000 converters a month, and then now we’re probably doing about one [thousand] to 2,500 converters a month,” said Grand-Maison. “It’s all going underground because we can’t pay cash.”
The Calgary Police Service reported that 2,754 catalytic converter thefts took place between the beginning of this year and October, as compared to a total of 1,560 thefts for all of 2021. Of course, both of these figures are representative of thefts reported after the implementation of the act, however, they do still point to the continued prevalence of this crime.
Additionally, 8,035 catalytic converter transactions were reported through the first nine months of 2022 worth $17.2 million. Otherwise left in a position of relative helplessness, many in the Albertan auto industry have added new services to their business repertoire to help consumers deter what is typically a very simple theft to pull off.
Ravi Chandra of Minute Mufflers in Calgary told the CBC that he has started installing wire cages around the catalytic converters of customers’ cars. “Anything to make it a little harder, a little longer for them to steal,” he said.
“If they want it, they’re gonna get it. But if you’re in the mall, and it takes a few extra minutes or seconds to take it, they might just move on to the next vehicle.”
For its part, Grand-Maison’s business opts for the laser engraving method, which sees a vehicle’s VIN permanently engraved on the catalytic converter in order to make it easier to track in the event of a theft.
As well, he says he would like to see pressure put on those who sell catalytic converters via online marketplaces, in ads that often appear suspicious even to the uninformed.
PROGRESS FOR PROGI
Progi has announced that going forward, Quebec vehicles sold on the ProgiPix car auction platform will be made available to all buyers with a Canadian operating license.
The Quebec-based company is opening the floodgates to all accredited auto recyclers operating in Canada with this news, which operations director Frederic Miceli says plays into an ongoing shift of Progi’s overarching business model.
“The world moves fast. Markets and technologies occasionally create opportunities. When these opportunities are not seized, they may often become a threat,” said Miceli, in a press release.
“Our vision has always been to provide a platform designed by and for automotive recyclers and that is the direction we are heading in. We invite new buyers to the table with a desire to create more opportunities for Canadian recyclers.
“The goal is for Progi and the Canadian recycling community to move forward together as we have since our founding,” said Miceli.
A Toronto-area auto recycler has received some mainstream attention for his calls to automakers to develop recycling procedures that properly account for non-metal waste, which often winds up in a landfill.
In a story published in the Toronto Star, president of Scarborough’s Standard Auto Wreckers, and known quantity to Canadian Auto Recycler readers, David Gold spoke on how, much like with the aftermarket’s Right to Repair movement, Canada’s auto recycling sector needs a framework in place to allow dismantlers to be able to do their jobs as thoroughly and sustainably as possible.
“Plastics, fabrics, foams are all shredder ‘fluff’ that is bound for landfill because the economics of it doesn’t make sense,” said Gold, who said he wants to see automakers engage with recyclers to advise on how best to deal with end-of-life vehicles.
“They don’t provide any information on dismantling their vehicles,” he said. “We’re working on a Right to Repair Act. Maybe it’s time for a Right to Recycle Act, as well.”
Stellantis is one major OEM that has committed to a “circular economy” plan that will see the generation of $2.6 billion in savings as it reintegrates production scraps and end-of-life vehicles back into the production process.