Stepping Up to Speak Up

May 1, 2024 | Industry

By Nick Daurio • ARA President

The 2024 ARA Hill Days was a huge success that brought ARA member automotive recyclers together in the nation’s capital. The last event was held in 2019 so the timing was right for ARA members to go back to Washington, DC, and advocate for the industry. Slater Shroyer, ARA Government Affairs Committee chair, and Emil Nusbaum, ARA Vice President of Strategy, Government and Regulatory Affairs, led a productive, educational, and organized effort.

This was my first time to attend, and I was pleased that we were thoroughly briefed the day before our visits on three main topics to present to our legislative representatives. They included the Repair Act (H.R. 906), the PART Act (H.R. 621/S. 154), and the Battery Material Use Hierarchy published by ARA and Argonne National Laboratory. I felt prepared to meet with my legislators from Colorado. My meetings at the offices of Rep. Lauren Boebert, Senator Michael Bennet, and Senator John W. Hickenlooper were encouraging.

On catalytic converter theft, legislators need to consider that the lack of uniformity based on varying state laws hinder proper effective enforcement. In fact, the National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that this crime has increased by 1,215% between 2019 and 2022. The National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program estimates that up to 700,000 converters were stolen in 2022.

ARA has supported the catalytic converter anti-theft PART Act and is deeply committed to assisting law enforcement and policymakers to find solutions to deter theft groups. Automotive recyclers are primary targets for catalytic converter theft, due to us being the largest collective owners of total loss, end-of-life motor vehicles. Thieves break into our facilities, endanger our employees and steal catalytic converters from our cars. Catalytic converters are also commonly missing from vehicles we purchase. Money is lost that we paid factoring converters into the purchase price.

ARA has worked as a part of a broad coalition of stake-holders to support the passage of the PART Act. The bill allows for law enforcement to link stolen catalytic converters to their vehicle of origin, requires all purchases of catalytic converters to be recorded, and codifies catalytic converter theft as a criminal offense.

When discussing the Repair Act, we emphasized that motor vehicles are now high-tech machines completely reliant on centralized computer systems to manage the vehicles’ operations down to the smallest components. According to The New York Times, new vehicles are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet containing 100 million or more lines of code. This has complicated the ability to use ROE–Recycled Original Equipment® parts for vehicle repairs.

We stressed that vehicle owners must have the ability to affordably repair their vehicles with ROE parts with repairers outside of an OEM network. It is necessary that vehicle owners and independent repairers have access to repair and maintenance data, especially when many vehicle repairs require replacement parts to be calibrated and synchronized with the vehicle’s computer systems. By withholding this data, OEM dealer networks become the only option for parts and repairs and eliminate the independent repairers and alternative parts suppliers. Vehicle owners will be forced to pay more to own and repair their vehicles.

The new Battery Material Use Hierarchy is important for ARA. The professional auto recyclers must fight for their ability to put EV batteries to their highest and best use. Whether that is in the reuse for vehicle repairs, or in secondary markets and repurposing of EV batteries. Our priority is to obtain a profit on the vehicle; we can’t survive just through recycling damaged batteries. Furthermore, without the ability to put batteries to their highest and best use, consumers will be hesitant to purchase or own EVs if their valuable batteries are single-use items.

In all of our industry initiatives, I believe that we are more powerful in numbers. I am excited to share that the United Recyclers Group (URG), ARA, and Team PRP announced the publication of a uniform set of standards guiding part preparation and shipping for the professional automotive recycling industry. The collaborative effort between the three organizations will be promoted as a vital industry resource.

ARA and URG also announced a groundbreaking collaboration aimed at redefining industry standards: the launch of the Gold Seal Quality Assurance Certification for professional automotive recyclers. This initiative, unveiled at the recent United Recyclers Group Annual Conference hosted with Team PRP, merges URG’s 9000 certification and the Gold Seal certification established by ARA and signifies a monumental leap forward in quality assurance.

In closing, I would like to say that attending ARA Hill Days is one of the most enjoyable experiences of my EC journey. I invite you to experience the advocacy process for yourself in Washington, DC, next year.

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