The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act requires that manufacturers develop and implement a thermostat collection program that meets a pre-established goal of collecting 15,500 thermostats by 2015, according to a news release from the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute.
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 the goals. That includes requiring manufacturers to pay financial incentives to those returning old thermostats to encourage greater participation.
The law also requires that manufacturers develop an outreach and education program for wholesalers, retailers, contractors and homeowners.
"This law addresses several obstacles that prevent the current voluntary collection system from achieving substantial results – namely, the lack of aggressive performance goals and financial incentives," says Scott Cassel, PSI CEO. "We hope that, with the new system of checks and balances, collection rates in New York will improve as they have following the passage of thermostat stewardship laws in Maine and Vermont."
The Thermostat Recycling Corp. (TRC), the manufacturer-led non-profit organization for collecting and disposing of mercury thermostats, collects only 1 percent of the estimated 310,000 mercury thermostats taken out of service annually. As a result, more than one ton of mercury enters the state's waste stream and environment each year.