New York state passes thermostat law

New York state passes thermostat law

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Product manufacturers will soon be required to collect and recycle old mercury-containing thermostats in New York state.

A producer-responsibility bill for mercury thermostats was signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late December, requiring manufacturers to have a recycling plan developed by July 2014. The law also sets out a goal of collecting 15,500 out-of-service products during calendar year 2015. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation will establish annual collection goals thereafter, and officials will be able to make changes to the program if manufacturers do not meet collection marks.

New York becomes the 11th state with a producer-responsibility law for thermostats. In 2006, Maine became the first state to enact such legislation.

"This kind of extended producer responsibility legislation will lead to a healthier environment, and help protect our state's air, land, and water resources," Andrew Radin, chairman of the New York Product Stewardship Council (NYPSC), said in a press release. "The council commends Governor Cuomo for signing this important environmental bill into law."

Under the law, thermostat manufacturers selling products in New York will be required to offer wholesalers collection containers and participate as collection sites. The companies must also provide collection containers and handling information to all retailers, contractors and local government officials that request such material.

The law also includes a provision that authorizes state environmental officials to require manufacturers to pay financial incentives to individuals bringing in old thermostats for collection if collection goals are not met. Among the other 10 states with thermostat collection laws, only Vermont and Maine have similar financial incentive provisions, according to data from the Product Stewardship Institute, Inc. (PSI), though in both of those states the payouts are built into the programs and do not have to be triggered by lagging collection totals.

The PSI figures indicate Vermont and Maine rank the highest in terms of per-capita thermometer collection.

A 2013 study prepared by PSI and several other groups ranked New York 37th out 47 states in per-capita thermostat collection rates for 2011.

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