A manufacturer-run program for collecting mercury thermostats is failing to keep the toxic heavy metal out of the trash—and the environment. Turning Up The Heat II estimates that, at most, the industry recycling program has captured 8% of mercury thermostats coming out of service in the past decade. This has resulted in the disposal of over 50 tons of mercury into the environment, which can expose people to the neurotoxin through fish consumption.
Adopting strong mandatory collection state laws with financial incentives and performance standards for recycling mercury thermostats is the most important change needed to drastically improve the TRC program and prevent mercury pollution. This report reviews the threat posed by mercury thermostats and makes recommendations for state programs to improve their collection rates.
This report is the second evaluation by Clean Water Action of the Multi-state Mercury Products Campaign of the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) program. After the first evaluation was published in February 2010, TRC stopped releasing its program collection results, and removed historic data from its website. Instead of making fundamental improvements, TRC chose to sacrifice program transparency and hide the lack of progress.