Keeping Mercury Out of the Environment
3:02 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Statehouse Bill Requires Recycling of Mercury Thermostats

Proposed legislation would tighten rules for disposal of mercury-based thermostats.  Though no longer made, many households still use them.  But if thrown away or burned, that mercury can get into the environment.

A new bill would require manufacturers to pay for recycling programs, and make them easy to use by the public. 

Amber Meyer Smith of advocacy group Clean Wisconsin…says it would be similar to the state’s e-waste recycling program.

“It is a producer-responsibility model.  So that means if people are putting a product into the waste-stream, then they should be responsible for it at the end of its life.”

Clean Wisconsin says only one in ten mercury thermostats are being recycled right now.  Mercury is associated with developmental disorders.   

“You know we’re seeing that in Wisconsin.  We’ve got every inland body of water under a fish consumption advisory because of mercury pollution in the state. And we just don’t think it should be like that.”

Recycling a thermostat would also bring a $5 cash incentive.  The law would also fine individuals who throw away mercury thermostats, and landfill operators that knowingly accept them. 

Proposed changes would take effect in 2015.