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British Columbia, Scrap-It, mandatory scrappage program


Scrap-It is an emissions reduction program designed to take older, high-polluting vehicles off the road. Following a feasibility study sponsored by the B.C. Lung Association, a pilot demonstration program began in April 1996, with a target of removing 1,000 vehicles in the Lower Mainland and 100 vehicles in Victoria. The program is strictly voluntary.

An evaluation was recently sponsored by the Scrap-It Program Steering Committee. Program funding was provided by the British Columbia Automobile Dealers Association (BCADA), the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI), BC Hydro and the Vancouver and Victoria Regional Transit Commissions. The evaluation incorporates information from similar vehicle scrapping programs elsewhere and makes use of up-to-date emissions data.

To be eligible for Scrap-It, the vehicle must have failed an AirCare (IM) test, have been insured within British Columbia for the past two years and be capable of being driven to the recycling contractor's scrap yard.

Owners of 1983 model year and older vehicles who meet the qualifying criteria can choose to scrap their vehicle and receive one of three types of incentive compensation: $750 toward the purchase of a new car, $500 toward the purchase of a used car, or a B.C. Transit pass for one year.


By early June 1997, Scrap-It had achieved the results shown in the Table below.

Incentive chosen Lower Fraser Valley Victoria
Cars approved for scrapping 696 53
Cars scrapped Used car 154 21
New car 57 7
Transit pass 234 9

The emissions of the scrapped vehicles were determined by testing a sample (63) of the scrapped vehicles in the AirCare laboratory. The emissions reduction was calculated for a scrapped vehicle as the difference between the average measured scrapped vehicle emission and the baseline emission estimated for the respective replacement (new car, used car or transit).

The transit pass was the most popular incentive in the Lower Mainland, with fifty-three percent of the participants in the program choosing this incentive. A survey of recipients of the transit pass incentive indicated a high level of satisfaction with the program and confirmed that increased commitment to transit was a result. The survey confirmed that most pass users were rush hour commuters. Seventy percent of transit pass recipients have not bought a car to replace the scrapped vehicle.

It is noteworthy that the transit pass incentive appears to be unique to Scrap-It among North American scrapping programs for which information was available.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that participants were generally pleased with the administration of the program.

Assuming a remaining life of three years for the scrapped vehicles (a conservative assumption), the emission reductions achieved by the program per thousand vehicles scrapped are as shown in the Table below, for hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and combinations of these pollutants. The weighting of CO in the final column of the table reflects the discount typically assigned to CO.

The emissions of the scrapped vehicles are much greater than the emissions of any of the incentives, resulting in reductions that are similar for all three incentives. Still, the Table indicates that transit is the cleanest, followed closely by a new car.

Emissions Reductions (Tons per 1000 Vehicles over remaining life)

Incentive HC CO NOX HC+NOx HC+NOX+(CO/7)
New Car 189 1224 51 240 417
Used Car 171 1089 36 207 363
Transit Pass 192 1284 51 243 426

The cost-effectiveness for the different pollutants is summarized in the Table below. Note that the dollar values for individual pollutants (HC, CO, and NOX) assume that the entire cost of the program is applied to the reductions of only that emission type.

Cost Effectiveness by Pollutant

Incentive Cost-Effectiveness ($/ton)
HC Only CO Only NOx Only HC+NOx HC+NOx+(CO)
New Car $4,574 $704 $16,453 $3,579 $2,073
Used Car $3,581 $563 $16,640 $2,947 $1,686
Transit Pass $5,247 $786 $19,835 $4,146 $2,364
Program Average $4,798 $729 $18,255 $3,796 $2,177

Focusing on the combined HC plus NOx values as an indication of smog reduction potential, the cost-effectiveness of Scrap-It is estimated at $3,800 per ton. The cost of the incentive effectively determines the ranking since the emission reductions are similar among the incentive options.

Scrap-It also reduced greenhouse gas emissions in addition to the common pollutants. Carbon dioxide reductions ranged from 1,500 to 4,300 tons per year per 1000 vehicles for the three incentives. Cost effectiveness was on average $130 per ton of CO2 per year.

In addition, there are unquantified benefits associated with the Scrap-It program and the removal of older vehicles from the road:

  • Reduced emissions of fine particles (PM10 and PM2.5) and fuel toxics such as benzene
  • Reduced environmental impacts of leaking fluids (e.g., motor oil and coolant) and leaking exhaust systems
  • A safety benefit of removing vehicles with mechanical deficiencies (e.g., braking and steering)
  • Support of transportation planning initiatives (e.g., public transit use)
  • More fuel-efficient replacements compared with scrapped vehicles

Scrap-It cost-effectiveness results compare favorably with other vehicle scrappage programs and with measures generally considered to be the most cost-effective as indicated in the GIRD AQMP. The cost-effectiveness of Scrap-It is similar to the cost-effectiveness of the AirCare program.

  • Scrap-It removed vehicles with emissions that are typical for their model years -- emissions were much higher than recent model-year vehicles -- but the scrapped vehicles were not gross emitters for the most part.
  • Scrap-It was cost-effective in reducing vehicle emissions.
  • The availability of a variety of incentives worked positively to encourage participation.
  • Administrative difficulties in the Lower Fraser Valley region ave been minimal. The Victoria Program was administratively difficult, partly because of the lack of AirCare centers.
  • Several concerns raised in advance of the program have been dealt with satisfactorily by the pilot program design and administration, e.g., the concern that 'collector' vehicles would be scrapped was solved by a system whereby the scrap yard contacts the Specialty Vehicle Association of B.C. if a noteworthy vehicle is delivered. Also, the main recycling contractor (Slater Iron and Steel) meets the environmental codes and regulations set out in the automobile recycling industry's Auto Recycling Code of Practice.
  • Given the composition of the vehicle fleet, a Scrap-It program target of 2,000 to 4,000 vehicles per year for five years is achievable.
  • Future scrapping programs need to market the program more aggressively to ensure participation.
  • It would be desirable in the future to be able to target the highest emitting vehicles ("gross polluters") among the older vehicle model years to enhance the emission reduction benefit.
  • Scrap-It should consider reducing the time requirement for insurance coverage to one year, since a year's coverage is more than the value of the incentives and effectively assures that the scrapped vehicle is in regular use.
  • Scrap-It should review whether excluding vehicles insured for "pleasure-only" use may be advisable, since high distance traveled, commuter use is the preferred target.
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In-use vehicles > Mandatory scrappage

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