Ottawa, Ontario – Over half a million mercury switches have been collected under an auto recycling environmental plan, ten years after the program came into effect.

Mercury switches, which present an environmental hazard in end-of-life vehicles, were used in many vehicles for convenience light switches such as under-hood lights, and in anti-lock braking systems. The switches are no longer used but can be found in vehicles turned in for recycling.

The Switch Out program has been removing, collecting and managing the switches from scrapped vehicles before they are flattened, shredded and recycled into new steel. The program was launched in 2001 by Summerhill Impact as a local initiative in Ontario and British Columbia. Since 2008, the Canadian Steel Producers Association and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association have been supporting and co-funding it as a national program.

The Switch Out program has expanded to all provinces and territories. Vehicle manufacturers have provided educational materials to assist recyclers, and steel producers have implemented a “zero mercury” recycled steel purchasing policy.

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