Pennsylvania plans for mercury thermostats
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) has approved two plans to collect and recycle mercury
thermostats, which will reduce the amount of mercury
released into the environment. The plans are part of
the new Mercury-Free Thermostat Act which requires the
recycling of out-of-service mercury thermostats. The
law will take effect December 8.
A single thermostat contains approximately four grams
of mercury. The United States Environmental Protection
Agency estimates that, each year, six to eight tons of
mercury ends up in solid waste facilities and up to two
tons are released into the air.
Under the new law, manufacturers who have sold mercury
thermostats in Pennsylvania must collect and recycle
waste mercury thermostats at no cost to contractors and
homeowners. Wholesalers located in Pennsylvania must
serve as collection sites for the thermostats. The law
also requires retailers and contractors to either participate
as collection points or provide notice to customers that
recycling of mercury thermostats is required by law and
identify locations of nearby collection points.
DEP received two plans for manufacturers to establish
collection and recycling programs in Pennsylvania. The
plans were submitted by the Thermostat Recycling Corporation
(TRC) of Arlington, Virginia and EWC Controls Inc. of
Englishtown, New Jersey. TRC is a nonprofit organization
that currently represents 29 manufacturers nationwide
that have distributed over 65 brands of mercury thermostats.
TRC sponsored collection sites will accept all brands
of mercury thermostats. EWC Controls sold thermostats
nationwide under its brand name through wholesale operations
from 1989 to 2007. This collection and recycling program
is for EWC Controls brand name thermostats only. Both
companies are voluntarily collecting thermostats in advance
of the law’s effective date in December.