May 2005

Michigan implements mercury switch recovery program

Washington— The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has joined with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to launch a statewide mercury switch collection program for end-of-life vehicles. The purpose of the program is to collect and recycle mercury-containing switches found in old automobiles to ensure they are safely removed before vehicles are shredded, crushed, or smelted; preventing the mercury from being released to the environment.

The voluntary program will assist motor vehicle recyclers in removing mercury containing switches, generally found in convenience lights and ABS braking systems, by providing them with supplies and easy to understand removal procedures. On average, many of these switch assemblies can be removed in as little as 48 seconds.

As part of this program, the Alliance has and continues to work with the Michigan DEQ and program participants to develop, produce, and distribute educational materials to motor vehicle recyclers. The training video, titled “The 48 Second Solution,” can be viewed at

This material will cover all aspects of the program including location and removal procedures for mercury convenience light switches and ABS sensors. Additionally, the Alliance is providing funding for supplies and transportation to the MDEQ designated disposal/recycling sites.

Once the program is completed, the Alliance and the DEQ will participate in a joint evaluation of the project including an assessment of the reliability and accuracy of reported switch recovery efforts. The initial phase of the program is expected to run through September 2006.


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