Safe Mercury Thermostat Disposal for HHW Centers
Are you a California HHW Center?
Partner with us to become a mercury thermostat safe recycling partner!
Join over 50 California HHW centers that are helping to prevent mercury contamination by acting as 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.
- The Thermostat Care team will check in to make sure your bin or pail arrived. If you have any questions during the accumulation period, please contact Info@thermostatcare.org.
Start using the container to collect thermostats!
As Californians bring in mercury thermostats, you will assist them in completing their incentive form, packaging the thermostat, and directing them to the ThermostatCare team with any additional questions.
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 rebate for recycling their mercury thermostat with you. We will soon have developed educational materials that you can display at your location – stay tuned!
Schedule a Pickup
Once the container is full, or within 1 year of receiving a thermostat (whichever comes first), schedule a FedEx Ground pickup to return the container to ThermostatCare free of charge.
After the thermostats are processed, you will be sent back the container to collect additional thermostats. If you do not receive another container within two months, please contact Info@ThermostatCare.org or contact ContainerRequests@thermostatcare.org if you’d like an additional container.
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 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.
Why do mercury thermostats require special disposal?
In normal use, mercury-containing thermostats are safe and do not expose people to mercury. However, if mercury thermostats are improperly handled or disposed of, the glass tube of liquid mercury may break, causing the mercury to vaporize. This can cause serious health problems – particularly among children and pregnant women. Mercury-containing thermostats that are not disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site can expose sanitation workers, soil and groundwater to toxic mercury contamination. So, improper care and disposal of mercury-containing thermostats are dangerous to both public and environmental health.
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.
What are the consequences of throwing a mercury thermostat in the trash?
Failure to properly dispose of mercury-containing thermostats can result in a $70,000 fine.
Any questions? Email Info@ThermostatCare.org