Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

Adam Hewitt

Addressing the challenge of ELV management in remote Northern Canada

Tundra Takeback programme Northern CanadaTundra Take-Back, a practical skills development program provided information on the work they have been doing to empower the Indigenous communities to depollute and recycle ELVs as well as appliances.

To do so, a team of recycling experts, with many of them sourced from the membership of the Automotive Recyclers of Canada, travels to remote Indigenous communities to provide hands-on training, tools, and educational resources for all extraction processes. It’s this hands-on approach that makes Tundra Take-Back so special. It also ensures that all trainees not only learn the fundamental skills needed to complete ELV and appliance depollution themselves, but that they also gain valuable industry knowledge -and directly from the automotive experts hosting the training. This includes insight into parts to collect for resale, the order of operations for depollution efficiency, important pointers on health and safety, and beyond.

With the support of tribal councils and governments, Tundra Take-Back has transferred skills and helped develop infrastructure in 18 communities across Ontario, B.C., Manitoba, Nunavut, Labrador, and Quebec, recovered over 2,000 tonnes of pollutants and recyclables, and trained over 100 people. 

Why is Tundra Tack-Back needed? 

Tundra Take-Back programme - Northern CanadaEvery year, tonnes of vehicles and appliances are shipped to northern and remote Indigenous communities across Canada – never to return. Many of Canada’s Indigenous communities (Inuit, First Nations, Cree, and Metis) are only accessible by seasonal road, barge, or air. This makes shipping these bulky metal items so costly that removing them is not feasible for most communities’ budgets.

The all-too-frequent result is an overflowing dumpsite: a zone where waste items can accumulate for decades, threatening human and ecosystem health by leeching a range of toxins (such as oil, mercury, antifreeze, lead, refrigerants, and battery acids) into the land and water. Overflowing dumpsites also create water licensing issues, form costly fire hazards, attract dangerous wildlife, and encroach on land needed for sustainable community development (not to mention: they’re major eyesores).

What are their goals/objectives? 

Since 2014, the people behind Tundra Take-Back have upheld three main goals: to transfer skills, extract waste, and develop infrastructure so that communities can continue the depollution process sustainably – and on their own, once all training activities are complete.

The program works to ensure Indigenous trainees are fully capable of carrying out all depollution processes once the training is complete. Groups of participants, often employees of the Public Works and/or local Garage Team, are kept small to ensure that every trainee is receiving intensive, high-quality training. Tundra Take-Back is an educational program as much as it is an environmental effort. Through our work, we hope to increase job creation in remote communities and provide long-lasting positive environmental impacts.      

Closing thoughts

Tundra Take-Back programme - Northern CanadaThe complex nature of sustainable waste management in northern and remote Indigenous communities requires a flexible mindset and a multi-pronged, collaborative approach. Every community in question has different (and often unique) requirements, so service providers and training programs like Scout’s need to be tailored in a way that allow all community needs to be met with sensitivity and precision. 

Ultimately, it’s our collective responsibility to take care of our land and water,no matter where that land and water might be, and ensure we help each other keep toxins and harmful pollutants out of the environment. Tundra Take-Back arms Indigenous communities with the skills they need to tackle the issue of overflowing metal dumps, while simultaneously building community capacity with a potential for multi-generational sustainability.  

Tundra Take-Back programme - Northern Canada

Visit the Tundra Take-Back website at


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.