California approves mercury thermostat recycling regulations

Source: Waste & Recycling

The state of California approved mercury thermostat regulations that will set aggressive targets for the collection and recycling of out-of-service mercury thermostats, according to a state news release.

“This is the first example of a take back program with measurable performance goals that will increase the number of mercury thermostats that are collected,” said Deborah Raphael, director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, in a statement. “I’m very proud of the fact that California is again leading the way, and will be a model for other take back programs.”

A state law banned the sale of new mercury-added thermostats in 2006. Though no longer sold in the state, up to 10 million mercury-added thermostats are still in California businesses and homes, according to the report.

The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act, passed in 2008, requires producers of such thermostats to operate collection and recycling programs. State law also bans their disposal in landfills, the report said.

Under the new regulations, manufacturers will be required to collect and recycle more than 32,500 mercury-containing thermostats in the second half of 2013, or 30% of the estimated amount of mercury thermostats that become waste, according to the report.

Recycling goals will increase annually until 2017, at which point the goal will be 75% diversion, or more than 147,000 mercury thermostats recycled, the report said.