The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Product Stewardship Institute launched a year-long pilot project on Sept. 8 that offers Kane County and other Illinois residents and heating-and-cooling contractors easy, convenient locations for dropping off their mercury-containing thermostats.
Better yet, in exchange for each thermostat returned, participating hardware stores will provide a $5 coupon that can be used at that store.
“Thermostat collection programs such as this one divert disposal costs away from local governments and taxpayers, which is a great benefit for our communities,” said Jennifer Jarland, Kane County recycling coordinator. “Not only that, this program gives consumers a convenient way to recycle their old thermostats, allowing effortless participation in the reduction of mercury pollution in Illinois.”
Many older household thermostats contain mercury — a toxic heavy metal that can cause serious health problems when it enters the environment. Through this program, Illinois EPA and PSI aim to protect public health by increasing homeowner awareness of the need and opportunity to recycle mercury thermostats. The program will also help participating retailers build a positive reputation as community and environmental service providers, while increasing customer loyalty, foot traffic and sales — all at little cost to them.
“This program is a collaborative effort to reduce mercury pollution from old thermostats, which is a serious health problem,” said Scott Cassel, CEO and founder of the Product Stewardship Institute. “Illinois EPA has taken the lead in developing this program; TRC will transport and recycle the thermostats once collected; retailers will provide residents and HVAC contractors with information and convenient collection locations; and HVAC contractors and residents will bring in the thermostats for safe disposal. This is shared responsibility and a win-win for the environment.”
The Illinois extended producer responsibility law requires heating, ventilation, and cooling contractors and service technicians to recycle mercury thermostats, and HVAC wholesalers to serve as collection sites. Many homeowners, however, are unaware that collection sites exist, where they are located, or how they can recycle their thermostats, and many may not realize the dangers mercury can pose. Illinois is one of only 13 states with such EPR laws.
Retailers can sign up for the program by contacting Becky Jayne at Illinois EPA at (217) 524-9642. Ms. Jayne will take care of the paperwork on each retailer’s behalf, facilitate the shipment of a TRC bin, and provide promotional materials and coupons.
About the Product Stewardship Institute
The Product Stewardship Institute is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their lifecycle with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, MA, PSI takes a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by encouraging product design changes and mediating stakeholder dialogues. With 47 state environmental agency members, along with hundreds of local government members from coast-to-coast, and 110 corporate, business, academic, non-U.S. government, and organizational partners, PSI professionals work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like the PSI on Facebook or follow on Twitter.