The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act, which was passed by the state assembly in June, requires that manufacturers develop and implement a thermostat collection program that meets a pre-established goal of collecting 15,500 thermostats by 2015.
The law also calls for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to establish annual collection goals thereafter, and to make changes to the program if manufacturers fail to meet these goals. This includes requiring manufacturers to pay financial incentives to those returning old thermostats to encourage greater participation.
The law also requires that manufacturers develop and execute an outreach and education program for wholesalers, retailers, contractors and homeowners. Contractors who replace mercury thermostats from a building, or demolish a building that contains mercury thermostats, are also required to deliver the thermostats to a collection site.
According to an April report released by the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) and the Multi-State Mercury Products Campaign, New York ranked 37 out of 47 states in per-capita thermostat collection rates for 2011.
The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC), the manufacturer-led nonprofit for collecting and properly disposing mercury thermostats, collects only 1 percent of the estimated 310,000 mercury thermostats that are taken out of service every year in New York. As a result, more than 1 ton of mercury enters the state’s waste stream and environment each year.