Safe Mercury Thermostat Disposal for HHW Centers
Are you a California HHW Center?
Join over 60 California HHW centers that are helping to prevent mercury contamination by acting as Thermostat Care collection partners for out of use mercury-containing thermostats. Here’s how:
Order a Container
Order a mercury thermostat collection bin or pail from us. Collection pails can hold up to 6 thermostats, while bins are larger and meant for higher volume collection sites. Submit a bin or pail request form to Thermostat Care team by completing a form and emailing it to ContainerRequests@ThermostatCare.org.
What Happens Next?
- Thermostat Care team processes request and prepares to ship your bin or pail to your location.
- The requested bin or pail, along with related materials (like guidelines on how to properly package mercury thermostats and care for the bin or pail) will be sent to your location. Please note that the actual bin or pail will have TRC (Thermostat Recycling Corporation) branding, but this is still a part of the Thermostat Care program. If you do not receive your container within 1 month, please contact ContainerRequests@ThermostatCare.org to inquire about the status of your container. Please only accept intact, unbroken thermostats.
- If you have any questions during the accumulation period, please contact Info@thermostatcare.org.
Once you’ve received your collection container, cut the zip tie and open the container to verify that the relevant materials are included. Make sure the container is placed in an area accessible to all employees but out of direct reach from the public.
Ensure that mercury thermostats are individually placed and sealed in provided Ziploc bags. DO NOT remove the mercury ampule from the thermostat. Broken thermostats will not be accepted at drop-off locations.
Steps to Collecting Mercury Thermostats:
- Ensure all consumers (not contractors) are filling out a rebate form prior to handing off the mercury thermostat to participate in the $30 per mercury thermostat mail-in rebate. If the consumer completes an incentive form, staple it to the outside of the Ziploc bag with their mercury thermostat to keep those items together for processing
- When a mercury thermostat is dropped off in your container, record relevant information in the mercury collection log (included in our Universal Waste Regulation training material, which also comes with each new container sent to your location). This tracking log needs to be kept at your location and covers the collection records spanning three years. When it’s the first time a mercury thermostat is collected for this current container, you must place the date it was dropped off on the accumulation date sticker provided – this is the start of your “accumulation period” for that container.
Spread the Word
Start letting residents know that they can safely dispose of old mercury thermostats at your location! You can also let them know that they can receive a $30 mail-in rebate per mercury thermostat.
Schedule a Pickup
Once the container is full, or 6 months after receiving your first thermostat (whichever comes first), schedule a FedEx Ground pickup to return the container free of charge. Your container was shipped with the pre-paid label already inside. If you misplaced the label, contact email@example.com for a replacement.
To schedule: Visit the FedEx website section to “Schedule a Ground Return Package Pickup” (fedex.com/grd/rpp/ShowRPP.do) or call FedEx customer service to schedule a pickup at 1 (800) 463-3339
- If calling, the call will be automated, then it will transfer to a customer service representative.
- Schedule the pickup with “FedEx Ground” and not “FedEx Express” (our labels are with “Ground”).
When the FedEx carrier picks up your container, make sure you receive a shipping receipt from them, which will have information about the container contents. To follow Program expectations, you must keep a record at your location about the shipments for at least three years.
Once a pickup order is received by our processing partner (Veolia), a replacement container will automatically be sent back. If you have any questions about the arrival of your replacement container or would like to order a small pail to have on-hand for mercury thermostat collection while your container is being processed, please contact Info@ThermostatCare.org.
The following downloadable materials are available to help share more information about safe, proper mercury thermostat recycling:
- ThermostatCare program overview (PDF)
- Why it’s important to recycle a mercury thermostat (PDF) (additional languages)
- For HHW Employees: Partner Safe Disposal Information (PDF) (additional languages)
- How to prepare a thermostat for recycling or deal with a broken thermostat (PDF)
- The EPA website has helpful information on mercury spills in case a thermostat breaks while at your location.
- For additional information, visit the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)’s Handling and Disposal of Mercury Waste Fact Sheet
- Training on Universal Waste Regulations (PDF)
Commonly Asked Questions
What thermostats do we accept?
We accept all brands of wall-mount, mercury-containing thermostats. The thermostat must be whole and not leaking. Having the thermostat cover isn’t necessary. We do not collect or process any other mercury-containing products.
How do individuals receive the $30 mail-in rebate?
Individuals bringing in their mercury thermostats should have the thermostats sealed in a sealable, clear plastic bag with their filled-out rebate form in the same plastic bag. If they do not have a rebate form, you may provide them with a rebate form to fill out at the time they bring in their mercury thermostat. Once they fill out the rebate form, seal it in the clear plastic bag along with the thermostat and place it in the collection container.
What are the health risks of being exposed to mercury?
Mercury is toxic and exposure even in small amounts may cause serious health problems. Breathing mercury vapors can harm the nervous system, lungs and kidneys. Mercury vapors can also pass easily from the lungs to the bloodstream. Children under 14 are more sensitive to mercury than adults because of their developing brains and nervous systems – and may be irreversibly damaged by it. Mothers who are exposed to mercury and breast-feed may also expose their infant children through their milk.
Any questions? Email Info@ThermostatCare.org