As of 2005 PSI estimates that only 14-18% of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) wholesalers were participating in the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) program. The aim of this project was to improve this participation rate by increasing the involvement of large wholesalers that operate as a chain in multiple states. By seeking the cooperation and support of the corporate headquarters of these chains, the stakeholders in the dialogue process hoped to add many wholesaler locations to the TRC program through one corporate contact. This outreach consisted initially of a letter from a senior state official in the state where the headquarters is located requesting that the company require, or strongly encourage, its outlets to participate in the program, and included follow-up contacts to obtain a positive outcome.
This program required state officials to take the following steps to provide outreach to mercury thermostat wholesalers:
- Make the initial phone contact with the wholesaler
- Provide the contacts to PSI to track company participation
- Send a letter on agency letterhead to the wholesaler requesting their participation
- Assist PSI in tracking the responses from the wholesalers
PSI drafted the model letter to be used by state officials, and obtained a list of 150 chain wholesalers from thermostat manufacturers participating in the dialogue. PSI identified and contacted the appropriate state officials in the 31 states where the chains are located and coordinated two large conference calls – on June 15, 2005, to encourage their participation in this effort, and on December 21, 2005, to report on the progress of this effort and re-enlist agency support. Wholesaler responses have been tracked through a PSI-created database.
PSI developed a Mid-Term Progress Report on December 15, 2005, based on telephone interviews with officials from over 10 states. The December 21 conference call reflected on the project and the findings of the Mid-Term Progress Report. The review found that few states have begun the project and, of those that did, none had received a written response from the wholesalers. Many of the states, however, expressed a desire to undertake the requisite activities in the near future. Reasons given for the delay included being unaware of the project, not remembering the project or next steps, unclear direction from management, lack of staff, and competing priorities. PSI will work with TRC and other dialogue members to evaluate the mid-term results and develop new approaches to increase thermostat collection.