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Mercury-Thermostats: Handling, Recycling & Disposal
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Market Information
Collection Programs
Alternative Products
Handling, Recycling & Disposal
Mercury Reduction Programs
Where To Go for Help
Complete List of Links

Under federal law, mercury-switch thermostats can be handled as universal wastes. In 1995 the US EPA issued the Federal Universal Waste Rule (40 CFR § 273 et seq.) as an amendment to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Federal Universal Waste Rule was designed to reduce the amount of hazardous waste items in the municipal solid waste stream, encourage recycling and proper disposal of certain common hazardous wastes, and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses that generate these wastes. Specifically, it streamlines requirements related to labeling, accumulation time limits, and transportation. With regard to mercury, the Federal Universal Waste Rule includes thermostats, and was amended in 1999 to include some lamps (e.g., fluorescent, high intensity discharge (HID), mercury vapor). (For a more detailed description of all regulations that may apply to mercury products, see the Mercury Topic Hub - Regulations section.)

There are U.S. companies that recover the mercury from waste mercury-containing devices, including mercury thermostats, refine it and make it available for reuse in new mercury products. Maintained by state environmental programs and other organizations, a few lists of companies that provide this service are included in the links section in this Topic Hub.

The Thermostat Recycling Corporation manages a collection and recycling program for mercury thermostats. (For more information on this, see the Collection Programs section of this Topic Hub.)

Disposal as a hazardous waste is also an option for waste mercury-containing material. Mercury wastes are subject to EPA's Land Disposal Restrictions which were enacted through the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 that amended the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These restrictions prohibit the land disposal of hazardous waste that has not been adequately treated to reduce the threat posed by such waste. EPA's current LDR regulations set both technology and numerical based treatment standards that require waste management facilities to either retort, roast, or incinerate hazardous wastes that contain greater than 260 mg/kg of total mercury (depending on the presence of organics); or treat hazardous wastes that contain less than 260 mg/kg of total mercury to 0.025 mg/L TCLP prior to land disposal.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Mercury-Thermostats Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 10/16/2009