Thermostat collections increase
The Thermostat Recycling Corp. (TRC) recovered nearly 88,000 thermostats containing more than 819 pounds of mercury in 2005. These are increases of 10% and 12%, respectively, of the quantity of thermostats and amount of mercury recovered in 2004. Since its inception in January 1998, the TRC has now recycled nearly 420,000 mercury switch thermostats and removed more than 3,800 pounds of mercury from the Nation’s waste stream. Collections were highest in Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, according to a NEMA report.
The TRC is a private corporation established by the nation’s largest thermostat manufacturers: Honeywell, White Rodgers and General Electric. It is a voluntary, industry-sponsored program that provides a mechanism for the proper disposal of mercury switch thermostats, regardless of brand. The program began operating in nine states (Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin) in 1998, but by 2001 was active in the remaining lower 48 states as well. More than 1,300 HVAC wholesalers participate in the TRC (a full list of participating wholesalers is available at www.nema.org/trc).
Recently, the TRC expanded to encompass HVAC contractors as well, provided they have at least seven contractors or technicians in the firm or are located in a rural county. Since the expansion’s announcement last year, 155 independent contractors have signed up for the program.
For a one-time fee of $15, each participating wholesaler and contractor receives a protective plastic bin to store end-of-life thermostats as they are removed during demolition and remodeling. When the bins are full, participants ship them free of charge to the TRC’s recovery center, where industry personnel remove the switches and forward them to a mercury recycling facility.