Industry leaders to address escalating catalytic converter thefts and promote responsible PGM recycling
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(Kitco News) - The theft of catalyst converters in car exhaust systems has seen an astronomical rise in the last few years as thieves target high-valued precious metals; However, one industrial precious metals trade association is working to stop these thefts.
Wednesday, the International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI) announced the creation of the Preventing Auto Catalyst Theft (PACT) Committee. The group is looking to find practical solutions for preventing catalytic converter theft.
According to preliminary estimates from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more than 130,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the U.S. last year, roughly double the number from 2021. The rise in precious metals prices has led to a 10-fold increase in catalytic converters thefts over the previous four years.
Thieves have targeted catalytic converts because they contain valuable rhodium, platinum and palladium. These precious metals are critical metals used to reduce harmful emissions from diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles.
Rhodium, in particular, has attracted a lot of attention as its price has skyrocketed since 2018 due to rising demand and constrained supply. In early 2021 rhodium was worth more than $26,000 an ounce. While the spot price has come down from those stratospheric levels, they are still well above the 2020 lows, currently trading around $8,750 an ounce.
Spot prices for Palladium, while down from last year's highs, are currently trading at $1,381.50 an ounce. Finally, platinum, which hasn't seen the same supply issues as rhodium and palladium, is trading at around $942 an ounce.
Because of supply issues for these precious metals, recycling has become an important contribution to the supply chain, which the IPMI said is being disrupted by the increased thefts.
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"There needs to be uniformity in regulating interstate commerce of catalytic converter recycling, making it easier for state law enforcement to catch thieves and prosecute them without assistance from numerous departments and federal agencies," the IPMI said in a statement.
Through the PACT Committee, PGM industry leaders are looking to work with governments and law enforcement to prosecute thieves and establish clear standards for legitimate recycling entities, the IPMI said.
"The PACT Committee is dedicated to deterring catalytic converter theft by providing law enforcement with the necessary tools to catch and prosecute thieves," said an IPMI spokesperson in a statement. "They advocate for a clear nationally recognized standard for legitimate entities dealing in catalytic converter recycling. With their expertise, they hope to shape federal legislation that tackles ongoing issues while supporting legitimate recyclers' business continuity contributing to a global supply chain of recycled critical minerals."