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Managing Mercury Thermostats

New York State Mercury Thermostat Collection Act

On December 18, 2013, the Governor signed the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2013 (leaves DEC website) into law. This legislation adds a new Title 29 to Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 27, "Mercury Thermostat Collection Act" and provides for the mandatory collection and environmentally sound management of mercury thermostats. As a result, homeowners have more convenient opportunities for the safe drop-off and recycling of out-of-service mercury thermostats, thereby diverting them from being improperly disposed of in the trash, ultimately ending up in landfills and at municipal waste combustion facilities. It is illegal to throw mercury thermostats in the trash, as New York State has had a disposal ban in place since 2005.

The Act requires thermostat manufacturers, individually or collectively with other manufacturers, to establish and maintain a program for the collection, transportation, recycling, and proper management of out-of-service mercury thermostats at no cost to the consumer or other persons participating in the program. In NYS the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) implements the program on behalf of manufacturers. To locate a collection location near you visit TRC's website (leaves DEC website)

Thermostat wholesalers are prohibited from selling thermostats unless they participate as collection sites and wholesalers and retailers are prohibited from offering for sale or distributing thermostats unless the manufacturer of such thermostats has or is participating in a program to accept end-of-life mercury thermostats. The Act also prohibits transporters from knowingly comingling mercury-added thermostats with recyclable materials, or transporting or knowingly delivering mercury thermostats to incinerators, landfills, transfer stations, or to anyone the transporter knows might comingle materials or make such unlawful deliveries. Contractors who replace mercury thermostats or demolish buildings are required to bring mercury thermostats to collection programs.

Reports on the NYS Mercury Thermostat Collection Act

DEC has submitted a report to the Governor and Legislature analyzing the results of the mercury thermostat collection program since implementation. The report, entitled "New York State Mercury Thermostat Collection Act Program Analysis and Recommendations," (PDF) is now available.

A report entitled, "Effectiveness of the NYS Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2013 with Recommendations for the Act's Extension" (PDF) was submitted to the DEC by the NYS Center for Sustainable Materials Management, and is now available.