An important barrier to mercury thermostat recycling by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors is the limited number of collection locations participating in the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) program. In addition to expanding the number of participating wholesalers through Project 1, stakeholders seek to improve the convenience and visibility of the TRC program by allowing some contractors to collect thermostats. In March 2005, PSI and TRC announced the launch of an expansion of the TRC thermostat collection program to certain HVAC contractor locations. In 2005 TRC expanded the entitites that could serve as collection locations to include contractors working with a high volume of mercury thermostats and those located in rural settings. Replacement boxes, shipping costs, and the cost of recycling the thermostats are paid by TRC.
PSI identified federal, state, and selected local government officials nationwide who are instrumental in promoting the program expansion, and coordinated outreach and education efforts targeted to contractors (using PSI and TRC-prepared materials). PSI provided guidance to state officials on the program expansion and how they could promote the program in their jurisdictions, monitored the progress of the expansion, and helped troubleshoot as problems as they arose.
In conjunction with Project 1, PSI developed a Mid-Term Progress Report on December 15, 2005, based on telephone interviews with officials from over 10 states to assess the progress of the project. The December 21 conference call also helped to reflect on the project and the findings of the Mid-Term Progress report. The review found that only three states had performed any significant outreach to contractors. In those states conducting outreach, the rate of contractor participation in the expansion program is about 10% or less. Most states contacted by PSI had not yet conducted outreach on the project, and indicated that they were unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future owing to resource constraints. The time and expense involved to develop a contractor list (particularly where the state has no licensing requirement), do the mailing, respond to inquiries, and conduct follow-up were considered prohibitive in the face of competing (and presumably higher) priorities, and shrinking budgets. PSI worked with TRC and other dialogue members to evaluate the mid-term results and developed other approaches to increase thermostat collection.