Recyclers head north with Tundra Take-Back

A bus at the end of its life sits in the snow near the community of Arviat, Nunavut. High costs and a lack of available infrastructure are two of the challenges when it comes to recycling vehicles in Canada’s North.   
















By Mike Davey

Arviat, Nunavut — July 9, 2014 — Canada’s auto recyclers are stepping up to take part in an ambitious new project: Tundra Take-Back. While automotive recycling is a strong presence in most of Canada, the Northern territories present numerous challenges to effectively recycling vehicles. 

There are difficulties with transportation, but there is also little to no infrastructure. The new Tundra Take-Back program will draw on the experience of professional auto recyclers to help ensure that end-of-life vehicles currently languishing are disposed of properly. In turn, this will help keep Canada’s North clean. 

The pilot project is being administered through Summerhill Impact, a not-for profit organization focused on creating and delivering environmental initiatives with partners in the government and business sectors. Summerhill Impact has partnered with the Auto Recyclers of Canada (ARC) and numerous other organizations to help bring the project to fruition. 

The pilot project will focus on the communities of Arviat and Gjoa Haven, possibly rolling out to other communities in future.

There is at least one more major challenge to vehicle recycling in Nunavut, aside from the associated costs and lack of infrastructure. Nunavut has no professional automotive recycling industry. In other words, there is no one currently qualified to do the work. That’s about to change. 

From right: Janet Taylor of Summerhill Impact, Tyler Markham, manager of the Padlei Co-op in Arviat, and Amos, a staff member at the Co-Op. Partnering with other organizations and members of the community is an integral part of the Tundra Take-Back program. 

Summerhill Impact has developed a practical guide to ELV recycling in the North through extensive consultation with industry stakeholders. 

“The guide builds on previous codes of practice and recovery manuals developed by industry leaders and tailors content to the Northern context,” says Heather Farquharson, Managing Director of Summerhill Impact “This guide will be the cornerstone for training local community members in Arviat and Gjoa Haven, who will learn recycling skills and be hired to support our depollution efforts.”

The project is finding support in the local communities. Community engagement officially launches today, with representatives of ARC,Summerhill Impact, Gerdau and Arctic Co-operatives taking part in the annual Nunavut Day celebrations. 

Training and depollution work will begin in Gjoa Haven, with a tentative date set for August 7, 2014. The project will begin in Arviat on August 21.

Andrew MacDonald of Maritime Auto Parts is one of the volunteers heading to Nunavut to assist with the project. 

“I’m providing hands-on training on how to depollute vehicles,” says MacDonald. “From there, we’ll use that experience to help refine the manual and possibly go into other communities. Hopefully, this project will help those communities to start developing auto recycling on their own, but I don’t think it would have been feasible for many communities without the partnerships Summerhill has put together.”

MacDonald sits on the board for the Automotive Recyclers Association of Atlantic Canada (ARAAC), as well as operating Maritime Auto Parts. Nevertheless, he has committed to supporting Tundra Take Back. 

“For me, it’s a chance to use my skills as an auto recycler in a way I typically wouldn’t,” says MacDonald. “We’re helping to clean up communities, not to mention that some of the stuff we’re dealing with is a risk to the local environment, and those environments are often very sensitive.”

Sarah Brophy of Lake City Services in Sylvan Lake, Alta., is the other volunteer set to make the trip to Gjoa Haven in early August. In addition to her employment with Lake City, Brophy sits on the board of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association (AARDA) and will soon start her third and final year at Red Deer College, where she is enrolled in the Parts Technician program. 

“We’ll be teaching people how to properly recycle dead vehicles,” says Brophy, who fell in love with the recycling business after she started working at Lake City seven years ago. “I’m passionate about auto recycling, and this is a chance to pass it on.”

Tundra Take Back is currently seeking additional volunteers from the auto recycling community, specifically for the pilot project running in Arviat in late August. Please contact Caroline Sturk at 416-922-2448 ext. 286 or via email to for more information. 

Summerhill Impact stresses that this project would not be possible without funding from Environment Canada’s EcoAction program, and the coordinated and considerable commitment from other key partners, including:

• Automotive Recyclers of Canada

• Automotive Recyclers Association

• Arctic Co-operatives Ltd.

• Calm Air

• Canadian North

• Gerdau Ameristeel

• Government of Nunavut

• Hamlet of Arviat

• Hamlet of Gjoa Haven

• Inns North

• Nunavut Sealink and Supply Inc.

• Tonolli Battery

Keep watching Canadian Auto Recyclers for more updates on Tundra Take Back! 


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