Five-State Pilot Begins Mercury Thermostat Collection
Starting this month, the Product Stewardship Institute, Inc. (PSI) and the Thermostat Recycling Corp. (TRC) will oversee a five-state pilot project to determine the feasibility of accepting mercury-containing building thermostats for recycling at local household hazardous waste (HHW) drop-off facilities. The pilot will run through the end of December of this year in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington State, and Florida at approximately 50 sites determined by state officials.
Under the pilot, permanent HHW collection facilities and short-term collection events will be outfitted with special bins to accept mercury thermostats. Staff at these facilities will be trained in the safe sorting and handling of these devices, which will ultimately be transported to a manufacturer site to be recycled. The three largest thermostat manufacturers (Honeywell, General Electric, and White-Rodgers) operate the recycling program through TRC, and provide the service at no charge to consumers.
In the past, TRCs mercury thermostat recycling efforts have been primarily aimed at contractors who install these devices, said Scott Cassel, PSIs Executive Director. This effort broadens the scope to people who replace their own thermostats. By providing convenient local collection sites, we hope to significantly increase thermostat recycling.
This project is the latest in a series of program expansions that aim to capture as many mercury thermostats as possible, said Mark Kohorst, TRC Executive Director. It is important that we eliminate the potential environmental impacts from our products all across their lifecycle.
“It is important to expand our efforts to collect and recycle as many mercury-containing products as possible to help prevent mercury releases in the environment,” said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott. “This mercury recycling program is essential to provide for a healthier environment for future generations.”
The pilot is part of a comprehensive mercury emissions reduction strategy PSI and TRC have developed to reduce the chances of mercury from thermostats being released into the environment. Currently, Oregon and Indiana are operating a PSI/TRC initiative to give financial incentives to thermostat installation contractors to recycle mercury thermostats they remove from buildings and replace them with new Energy Star qualified thermostats.
PSI also brokered an agreement between TRC, the state of Maine, and other stakeholders, which resulted in Maines new law that requires manufacturers to provide a financial incentive valued at a minimum of $5 for the return of each mercury thermostat to an established collection point in Maine. The requirement, signed into law earlier this month, will set up systems for installers and consumers to safely recycle these devices.
Mercury pollution is a problem across the nation, with many rivers and lakes subject to mercury fish advisories. People can get exposed to mercury by eating contaminated fish. One of the many sources of mercury deposition in the environment can be mercury-containing products. Mercury containing products can lead to contamination when thrown in the trash, where they might be crushed, incinerated, or otherwise mismanaged in a way to cause airborne releases, after which mercury falls back to earth in rainwater.
Recycling mercury-containing thermostats is an effective way to address this problem, which is why thermostat manufacturers established the Thermostat Recycling Corporation in 1998. TRC has collected more than 430,000 mercury-containing thermostats since its inception. There are three grams of mercury in every mercury thermostat switch, and an average of four grams of mercury per thermostat because some thermostats have multiple switches. Most continue to be disposed in the trash, however, so there is a clear need for ways to grow the program further.
PSI is a national non-profit membership-based organization that assists 31 states and 28 local governments in pursuing initiatives to ensure that all those involved in the lifecycle of the product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts. For information on mercury thermostats, go to:
TRC is a private, industry-funded corporation established by the thermostat manufacturing industry. TRC works with the EPA and state environmental officials for the sole purpose of recycling mercury thermostats nationwide. For information on TRC, go to:
HHW PILOT PROJECT MERCURY THERMOSTAT COLLECTION FACILITIES
May 1, 2006
Alachua County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center
Brevard County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center
Duval County Household Hazardous Waste Facility
Escambia County – Perdido Landfill HHW Collection Program
Main Solid Waste Authority HHW Facility (Palm Beach County)
Marion County HHW Program
Mid County Mini-Transfer & HHW Facility (Charlotte County)
Okaloosa County Household Hazardous Waste Facility
Pinellas County Utilities Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center
Sarasota County HHW Chemical Collection Center
Seminole County HHW Collection Center
Solid Waste Mgmt Dept – HHW/Electronics Collection Center (Hillsborough County)
West Pasco Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center
Naperville Fire Station No. 4 (DuPage County)
Rock River Reclamation District (Winnebago County)
Blue Earth County HHW Facility (Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, and Watonwan Counties)
Dakota County HHW Facility
Hennepin County HHW Facility
Kandiyohi County HHW Facility (Kandiyohi, Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, Renville, and Swift Counties)
Olmsted County HHW Facility (Olmsted, Dodge, Goodhue, and Wabasha Counties)
Otter Tail County HHW Facility (Grant, Otter Tail, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin Counties)
Rice County HHW Facility (Rice, Steele, and Waseca Counties)
Scott County HHW Facility
St. Louis County HHW Facility
Tri-County St. Cloud HHW Facility (Sherburne, Benton, and Stearns Counties)
Washington County HHW Facility
Winona County HHW Facility
City of Tacoma HHW Facility (Pierce County)
Kitsap County HHW Facility
Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County
North Hazardous Shed
South Hazardous Shed
Factoria Transfer Station
Wastemobile (mobile facility)
Snohomish County Solid Waste Facility (MRW)
Spokane County Facility
Sudbury Landfill HHW Facility (Walla Walla and Columbia Counties)
Thurston County HazoHouse
Dane County / City of Madison Clean Sweep Program
La Crosse County HHW Collection Program
Marinette & Oconto County HHW Collection Program
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
Northwest Clean-sweep, Northwest Regional Planning Commission (Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Washburn Counties)
Oneida County Solid Waste Department (Oneida, Vilas, Lincoln, and Forest Counties)
Polk County Recycling Program
Racine Wastewater Utility HHW Facility
Walworth County HHW Collection Program
Waukesha County HHW Collection Program
Waupaca County HHW Collection Program
Wood County Clean Sweep Program