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

Essential Links:

Action Plan: Comprehensive Solution to Address Mercury in Automobiles
Report detailing why mercury should be eliminated from automobiles. The action plan consists of the...

In some states, mercury switches are considered hazardous wastes, while in others they can be managed as universal wastes. The U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires waste material that exhibits the characteristic of toxicity for mercury to be managed as hazardous waste (40 CFR ? 261.33). 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.)

Because the Federal Universal Waste Rule is less stringent than the original hazardous waste regulations, adoption by states that are authorized to implement the RCRA program is optional. Many states have adopted the Universal Waste Rule; some have expanded it to include all mercury-containing devices. (Iowa, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are not authorized to implement RCRA). Check with your state environmental agency to determine how to properly handle used mercury switches.

Mercury recycling companies recover the mercury from waste mercury-containing devices, including mercury switches, 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 Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Mercury-Automotive Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association
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Hub Last Updated: 1/8/2013