On July 1, 2008, the State of Illinois joined several other states in prohibiting the sale and distribution of new mercury-switch thermostats that are used to activate heating and cooling equipment in buildings. In 2010, the Mercury Thermostat Collection Act was passed, requiring thermostat manufactures to establish collection programs for recycling mercury-switch thermostats when they are taken out of service. The purpose of these two state laws is to keep mercury from entering the environment. Wall-mounted mercury-switch thermostats are a major source of mercury in the solid waste stream. The thermostats may be broken when disposed of by traditional methods, allowing the mercury to be released into the air and eventually settling into water or onto land.
The key provisions of the mercury switch collection law include:
The collection programs established by the thermostat manufacturers under the law must be designed to collectively achieve the following statewide goals.
|Year||Statewide Collection Goals||Thermostats Collected||Annual Report|
|2011||5,000||7,2291||2011 TRC Annual Report|
|2012||15,000||13,0612||2012 TRC Annual Report|
|2013||15,000||12,4793||2013 TRC Annual Report|
1An additional 910 loose mercury switches or "bulbs" were collected in 2011.
2An additional 2,452 loose mercury switches or "bulbs" were collected in 2012.
3An additional 757 loose mercury switches or "bulbs" were collected in 2013.
The mercury switch collection law includes requirements for those involved with the manufacture, regulation, sale and installation of mercury-switch thermostats.
For a current list of thermostat collection sites, visit the Thermostat Recycling Corporation website. Thermostat retailers and qualified units of local governments are not required to be collection locations for mercury-switch thermostats, but can be one if they so desire. Qualified units of local government include household hazardous waste facilities, solid waste management agencies, environmental management agencies and departments of public health can be collection locations. Information on how to become a collection site is available on the Thermostat Recycling Corporation website.