The Business Council supports the intent of this bill – to promote the proper disposal of mercury-containing thermostats – we disagree with key components of S.4833, and oppose its approval.
We have a number of concerns with this proposal:
- Most significantly, this bill puts the entire responsibility and cost for implementing thermostat recycling on a single party – the manufacturer – that has no control over when or how thermostats are replaced and disposed of.
- The bill requires manufacturers to pay $5 to $10 “bounties” for each recycled thermostat if the Department of Environmental Conservation determines that less than 25 percent of thermostats taken out of service are not being recycled by 2014. Since this determination will be based on a wholly subjective DEC “estimate” of out of service thermostats, manufacturers could be subject to these significant additional costs even if they have implemented successful recycling programs.
- The bill requires manufacturers to develop recycling and education programs, and sets minimum standards for such programs, but then gives the DEC extremely broad discretion to require modifications of such programs, including consideration of consistency with programs mandated in other states.
- Since the ultimate objective of this legislation is to assure proper disposal, and to minimize risk of mercury releases into the environment, it should include an explicit prohibition on disposal of mercury-containing thermostats in the municipal waste stream.
Thermostat manufacturers have been proactive in promoting the collection and proper management of mercury-containing thermostats, and have established the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (http://www.thermostat-recycle.org/) that operates a nationwide reverse distribution system for their products. We believe that thermostat recycling programs can be successful, without narrowly imposed burdensome fees, if there is reasonably shared responsibilities among manufacturers, distributors and contractors.
We believe there are more efficient and effective approaches to promoting environmentally sound thermostat management than that proposed in S.4833, therefore we oppose its approval.