News & Press: For Immediate Release

Thermostat Collection Program for Residents and Small Contractors Launches in Illinois

Wednesday, September 9, 2015  
Posted by: Suzy Whalen

Those returning old mercury thermostats to participating
Ace and TrueValue hardware stores receive $5 coupon

Springfield, Illinois - The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) and the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) launched a year-long pilot project yesterday that offers Illinois residents and small heating and cooling contractors easy, convenient locations for dropping off their mercury-containing thermostats. In exchange for each thermostat returned, participating hardware stores will provide a $5 coupon that can be used at that store.

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 builds on the 2010 Illinois thermostat recycling law that requires thermostat manufacturers to set up collection and recycling programs for mercury thermostats. The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) was created by the industry to collect and recycle mercury thermostats, reducing waste and saving taxpayers and local governments money through decreased waste management costs. To promote this special program, TRC is offering free collection bins to participating hardware stores, normally a $25 per bin value.

"This program is a collaborative effort to reduce mercury pollution from old thermostats, which is a serious health problem," said Scott Cassel, Chief Executive Officer 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 (EPR) law requires heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) 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.

"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 Walter Willis, Executive Director of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, IL. "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."

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 (PSI) 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, Mass., 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, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter