On 12th February 2021, the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) submitted comments to the U.S. EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) in response to their request for information regarding their 1986 policy on the sale and use of aftermarket catalytic converters (1986 Policy).
The EPA derives its authority to regulate the resale and installation of used OEM and aftermarket catalytic converters from the Clean Air Act and clarified its position on the resale and installation of used OEM catalytic converters in its 1986 Policy. The policy goal behind the creation of the 1986 Policy was to allow consumers to have access to less expensive yet still effective used OEM and aftermarket catalytic converters, which would give vehicle owners more incentive to replace their worn-out catalytic converters, thus keeping our air cleaner.
In the 1986 Policy, the EPA categorizes “aftermarket” into two categories: “new aftermarket” and “used aftermarket”. The EPA defines the term “used aftermarket” as being a previously used OEM catalytic converter. Under the requirements of the 1986 Policy, used OEM catalytic converters can be sold and used for vehicle repairs so long as the used OEM catalytic converter passes three tests and meets specific requirements related to documentation.
While the EPA permits used OEM catalytic converters to be sold and installed on vehicles so long as the requirements of the 1986 Policy are complied with (and absent any state restrictions), ARA explained to the EPA that the current testing standards for used OEM catalysts in the 1986 Policy are too stringent to achieve the air quality goals of the EPA. Therefore, the EPA should update the testing standards for used OEM catalytic converters because it would be better for overall air quality if vehicle owners could replace worn-out or missing catalytic converters with, higher-functioning, used OEM catalysts rather than not replacing the catalytic converter at all.
In its comments, ARA proposed a new framework for the EPA to apply that takes into account the changes in technology and the new motor vehicle landscape, which would base the threshold on reusing a catalytic converter if it was operationally functioning and passes diagnostic testing and any local or state emissions tests. By updating the testing requirements required by the EPA in its 1986 Policy, which currently makes it impractical if not impossible for automotive recyclers to sell catalytic converters for repair purposes, automotive recyclers will be better able to resell catalytic converters for repair purposes.
ARA believes that laws and regulations should not unreasonably restrict the resale of motor vehicle parts by automotive recyclers and has explained to the EPA that by updating the restrictions on the resale of used OEM catalytic converters that the EPA would be able to better improve U.S. air quality.