Ernie’s Used Auto Parts does its part to keep the environment free of mercury

Travis Rodrigues and Whitney Rodger from Ernie
Travis Rodrigues and Whitney Rodger from Ernie's Used Auto Parts do their part to help the environment.
— image credit: Submitted

Did you know your vehicle is the largest and most recyclable item you own?  A professional vehicle recycler or dismantler can ensure that up to 80 per cent of an end-of-life vehicle is reused or recycled, while the remaining 20 per cent is disposed of responsibly. Vehicles contain a wide range of materials that need to be managed once they are decommissioned or reach the end of their useful life. Fuels, oil, coolants, batteries and heavy metals such as mercury all need to be removed by a professional to ensure there is no environmental impact. Local recycler Ernie’s Used Auto Parts has demonstrated their commitment to preventing hazardous materials from entering our environment by participating in the Switch Out, a mercury switch removal program.

Vehicles are no longer being manufactured with mercury, however, some vehicle makes and models built before 2003 contain small amounts of this heavy metal. The mercury is contained in metal casings or “mercury switches” that can be found in the anti-lock braking system (ABS) sensor modules and convenience lighting assemblies under the hood and trunk of the car. It is important to remove these mercury switches before a vehicle is crushed, shredded and recycled into new steel to prevent the mercury from being released into the environment.

Switch Out is an award-winning national program designed to remove, collect and manage mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles. The program was launched by Summerhill Impact in 2001, and since the time Switch Out has recovered and properly managed over half a million mercury switches. That’s equivalent to 425 kilograms of mercury, or the weight of an adult male polar bear.

Switch Out would not have been able to reach this milestone without the dedication of program participants like Ernie’s Used Auto Parts.  In 2011, Ernie’s Used Auto Parts collected 86 mercury switches which is equivalent to 73.10 grams of mercury.  Even a small amount of mercury can have a significant environmental impact, so the team at Ernie’s Used Auto Parts should be congratulated for doing their part to keep the environment mercury-free.

The success of the Switch Out program has not gone unnoticed. In the fall of 2011, Summerhill Impact won a Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence for work on the Switch Out program. This award from the Ontario Ministry of Environment recognizes initiatives that show excellence in pollution prevention, stewardship and environmental community building. For more information on the Switch Out program, please visit

Ernie’s Used Auto Parts is located at 4801 Minto Road Castlegar, BC.  For more information about their products and services, please call (250)365-6225 or visit them online at


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