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Home > Programs > Bureau of Environmental Protection > Office of Customer and Technical Assistance > Mercury Thermostats


 
RI's Mercury Thermostat Collection
and Recycling Law

Image of thermostat Rhode Island's Mercury Reduction and Education Act (RIGL 23-24.9) was recently amended to include new, specific provisions which impact mercury-added thermostats. The law requires manufacturers of mercury-added thermostats that have been sold in the state to establish and maintain a collection and recycling program for out-of-service mercury-added thermostats from wholesalers, contractors, retailers, service technicians and homeowners.

The Mercury Reduction and Education Act has made it illegal to sell mercury-added thermostats in Rhode Island since 2006. However, hundreds of thousands of mercury-added thermostats are still in use in Rhode Island homes and businesses, and the new legislation requires thermostat manufacturers to provide a comprehensive system to safely manage mercury-added thermostats.

Highlights of Amendments to RI's Mercury Law (2010 Senate Bill 2353A & 2010 House Bill 7199A):
  • Requires old mercury-added thermostats to be recycled at the expense of thermostat manufacturers (or their designee). Wholesalers and contractors play an important role in collecting/recycling old mercury-added thermostats and shall not offer for sale or distribute any thermostat unless the wholesaler/contractor acts as a collection site for thermostats the contain mercury. This sales prohibition takes effect February 1, 2011.


  • The manufacturers must submit a detailed description of a collection program for mercury-added thermostats that meets the requirements of section 23-24.9-10.2 to the Department. On or after January 1, 2011, manufacturers must make collection containers available to all qualified contractors, thermostat wholesalers, thermostat retailers, and local government collections that request a container for thermostats that contain mercury. Information regarding the proper management of thermostats as universal waste must be included.


  • A one-time fee, not to exceed $75.00 per collection container, may be assessed to participants.


  • Wholesalers/distributors shall support and participate with manufacturers to educate consumers on the proper management of out-of-service mercury-added thermostats. This includes the posting of signs at sites serving as collection points for mercury-added thermostats.


  • Wholesalers/distributors shall receive from manufacturers educational and other outreach materials. These materials shall include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:

    1. Signage that is prominently displayed and easily visible to the consumer and contractors.


    2. Written materials and templates of materials for reproduction by retailers and wholesalers to be provided to the consumer at the time of purchase, delivery, or both purchase and delivery of a thermostat. The materials shall include information on the prohibition of improper disposal of mercury-added thermostats, the proper management of out-of-service mercury-added thermostats, and the locations of collection opportunities.


    3. Advertising and/or other promotional materials that include references to collection opportunities.


    4. Materials to be used in direct communications with the consumer and contractor at the time of purchase.

  • Mercury-added thermostats collected as part of a state weatherization or energy efficiency program are required to be properly recycled.


  • Manufacturers are required to collect a certain number of mercury-added thermostats per year in accordance with a collection plan as approved by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). The collection goals are as follows:

    Program Year 2011 2,000 mercury-added thermostats
    Program Year 2012 2,250 mercury-added thermostats
    Program Year 2013 2,500 mercury-added thermostats
    Program Year 2014 2,500 mercury-added thermostats
    Program Year 2015 RIDEM sets goals via regulation

  • RIDEM will maintain and post a list of collection points in RI on its website.


  • Manufacturers not in compliance with this law are prohibited from selling thermostats in RI.


  • Wholesalers and retailers shall not distribute or offer for sale any brand of thermostat by a manufacturer that is not in compliance with this new law.
The Goals of Rhode Island's program are:
  • To give every contractor and citizen a convenient opportunity to recycle all mercury thermostats.


  • For RIDEM and others to partner with the manufacturers to establish sound collection and recycling programs for thermostats that would otherwise end up in the trash.


  • To educate Rhode Island residents and businesses on the importance of recycling their thermostats, and how it protects the environment.


  • To acknowledge the manufacturers' commitment to offering a collection and recycling program for mercury thermostats, and to recognize the existing program as an avenue for manufacturers to comply with the Rhode Island law.


  • To promote a comprehensive product stewardship approach to reduce environmental and health risks posed by the use or disposal of products like mercury-added thermostats.
Manufacturer Groups Proposing Collection/Recycling Opportunities in RI:
Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC)

Contact Information:
If you have any questions concerning the new law, please contact Beverly Migliore via email at beverly.migliore@dem.ri.gov or at 401-222-4700 x7503.

For General Information 222-6800 • After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 • Disclaimer
rev. 1/5/12