Agreement reached on national switch recovery
Washington, DC— Representatives
from the vehicle manufacturers, steelmakers, vehicle dismantlers,
vehicle shredders, environmental community, states and the United
States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached agreement
on a statement of principles detailing the elements of a national
The program is for recovering
mercury switches from scrap cars and light trucks before they
are shredded for recycling. The parties are now working to complete
a formal agreement.
Historically, mercury light switches
were used in autos for convenience lights (under the hood or in
the trunk) and in anti-lock braking systems.
Automakers have phased out the
use of these mercury switches in new vehicles. When retired vehicles
are recycled, however, the mercury from unrecovered switches can
be released to the environment.
The national program would include
a commitment by automakers to provide information regarding switch
removal and take responsibility for collection, transportation
and recycling of the switches. Auto dismantlers and others who
recover switches would submit them to the program for proper management.
Steelmakers and those who produce steel scrap for steelmaking
use would promote participation in the program and also act to
ensure mercury switches are removed. Automakers and steelmakers
would create a fund in support of implementation of the program
and for incentives for participation to those removing switches.
The National Mercury Switch Recovery
Program Statement of Principles for agreement’s final version:
- The parties are committing
to create the National Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NMSRP).
They agree recovery of mercury switches prior to crushing and
shredding of end-of-life vehicles is the most effective way
to reduce mercury which would otherwise be emitted into the
- The NMSRP is a collaborative
program involving the vehicle manufacturers, steelmakers, vehicle
dismantlers, vehicle crushers, auto shredders, brokers, environmental
community, state representatives and the EPA.
- The goal of the NMSRP is to
significantly reduce air emissions of mercury from steel making
facilities that utilize auto shred by substantially reducing
the number of mercury-containing switches in scrap automobiles
before they are crushed and shredded for recycling.
- Vehicle manufacturers will
have the lead responsibility for providing information, education
and outreach regarding switch removal. They are responsible
for collecting and transporting them for proper recycling or
disposal, and will assume liability for the switches once they
are collected. They will also establish a database to track
switch recovery by program participants and help evaluate overall
- Participating dismantlers
and others processing end-of-life vehicles will recover mercury
switches and submit them to the Program.
- Steelmakers will strongly
encourage their suppliers and others in the supply chain to
support and participate in the NMSRP. In anticipation of EPA’s
proposed steel industry Area Source and other regulations, such
as the Iron and Steel MACT rule, that will require steelmaking
facilities to reduce mercury in scrap feedstock by developing
and implementing scrap work practice standards, individual steelmakers
will take steps consistent with such regulatory requirements
and the NMSRP to minimize the presence of mercury in auto shred.
- All organizational participants
in the NMSRP will support implementation of the Program through
public endorsements and by encouraging their members to participate.
- The EPA will take the NMSRP
into serious consideration when developing an area source regulation
for Electric Arc Furnaces (EAFs) and other relevant regulations.
- The vehicle manufacturers
and steelmakers will create a three-year, $4 million implementation
fund in support of the Program. They each will contribute half
of the funding. No additional funding is required or contemplated.
The fund will support the implementation of the NMSRP through
incentive payments to those recovering switches.
- Aggressive mercury recovery
goals and performance metrics have been identified for the program.
Performance will be assessed on a regular basis by all of the
participating parties. Participants will work to continuously
enhance the Program’s performance on an ongoing basis.
- In each state where the NMSRP
is being implemented, the parties to this agreement will work
collaboratively to develop an implementation plan that will
provide for regular evaluation of progress and mid-course corrections
to improve performance.
- The NMSRP will be implemented
until 2017 based on estimates that 90% of the vehicles containing
mercury switches will be retired by that time. If the mercury
switch issue becomes an insignificant contribution to the environment
before that time, the program may end. If the mercury switch
issue continues to be significant after that date, the program
may be extended.