Environmental and Safety Compliance

I want to talk about the importance of environmental and safety compliance, and its return on investment, as well as the cost and potential liabilities. Let’s start off with the question of what exactly does compliance mean for the Automotive Recycler? For this article, we will talk about two main areas of compliance, the first being environmental, and the second being safety.

So, what does compliance mean for the Automotive Recycler? What are the costs and benefits?

I will use two examples here. We will call them “Recycler A” and “Recycler B.”

Recycler A realizes the importance of being environmentally compliant and does this using the best management practices. He also keeps his business clean, neat, and organized. He does a good job of removing fluids, batteries, and freon from the vehicles, and he takes his time to do the job properly. He is aware of current environmental regulations and does his best to be compliant with them. He does regular inspections to make sure that everything is by the book.

Recycler B does not believe that being environmentally compliant is important. Again, this requires three things that he does not like to give: time, work, and money. His approach is to manage by crisis.

Recycler A enjoys peace of mind in knowing that he is doing things right. He does not have to sweat getting a visit by regulators, whether it is the EPA, OSHA, law enforcement, or even the usual insurance inspection.

We have all visited other recyclers and we have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. One thing is for sure, we always learn something from these visits. From Recycler A, we learn new and better ways to improve our business. With Recycler B, we learn what not to do.

So, what do these examples mean for the rest of us? Yes, doing all of these things does require a commitment of time, work, and money. The smart approach here is to think of this as an investment in your business. You only get out of something what you put into it. One thing I can say for certain is this: the responsible and compliant operators are always the most profitable. They are good stewards of the environment and they care about their employees, as well as the community in which they do business.

Recycler A also realizes the importance of operating in a safe manner. He has processes and rules in place and gives his employees the training, tools, and resources needed to do their job safely and properly. He is aware of all of the hazards that are always present in his business and has taken a proactive approach to avoid these hazards, and keep his employees and his business out of harm’s way. He knows that processes evolve and he makes changes as needed to improve his processes. He also keeps his employees trained on newer and better methods to do their job safely and more efficiently.

Recycler B does just the opposite of Recycler A. He is not concerned about operating in a safe and compliant manner. His process consists of the “fly by the seat of your pants” approach, and he basically goes from one crisis to another. He feels that doing things properly is too much work, and costs too much money. He has a hard time hiring and retaining good employees, and because of his actions, he has a hard time making ends meet.

The best approach would be prevention by being proactive. Why wait for something to occur that you know could be a problem. Isn’t it better to nip it in the bud? Like the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

We have a great working relationship with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). They have a state certification in place, the “Indiana Clean Yard Program.” Every two years, they will come out, inspect, grade, and re-certify each applicant.

While these areas of compliance can seem to be intimidating as well as costly, if you look at the big picture they really are not. Yes, it does cost money to have a proper process in place with the necessary equipment to do this job safely and properly, but by doing this you are lowering the risk to your people as well as your property.

I can’t stress enough the importance of all Auto Recyclers participating in the Certified Auto Recycler (CAR) Program. We have a moral and ethical obligation to operate in a safe and responsible manner. We need to be good stewards of the environment as well as the communities in which our businesses are located.

As long as there are vehicles, there will be a need for Automotive Recycling.

For all of us, no matter how good we are, there is always room for improvement.

The ARA Certified Auto Recycler (CAR) Program is a great resource that all need to be a part of.

We all need to work with and support our State and National Associations!

We are not junkyards! We are Automotive Recyclers.

Marty Hollingshead

ARA Secretary · Northlake Auto Recyclers — Hammond, IN

Hollingshead has been in the professional automotive recycling industry for 45 years, including 34 years as President/Owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, one of the industry’s leading facilities. Hollingshead prides himself on taking a hands-on approach in the business, employing the use of checks and balances for quality control to ensure customers only receive the highest quality parts. Northlake was one of the first automotive recycling facilities in the state of Indiana to receive from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management the Indiana Clean Yard – Gold Level Certification in 2009. Northlake was certified as one of the Indiana Certified Automotive Recycler Exemplary Standards (INCARES) program’s inaugural medalists and was the highest scoring facility in Indiana in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and tied for first place in 2018. Northlake was also the recipient of the 2016 ARA Certified Automotive Recycler of the Year award, having been nominated by his peers in the industry.