The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) Waterways throughout this Commonwealth have been placed under fish consumption
advisory warnings due to high levels of mercury contamination.
(2) Human exposure to mercury from thermostats is primarily through improper disposal
of items in landfills or through incineration.
(3) Mercury thermostats represent the largest amount of mercury in ordinary household
products. A single mercury thermostat contains between three and five grams of mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's 2002 estimates, each year about
six to eight tons of mercury from discarded thermostats end up in solid waste facilities
and between one and two tons are released into the air.
(4) Electronic programmable thermostats that do not contain mercury are readily available
and can save consumers considerable money in energy costs when used properly. Snap-switch thermostats that function like mercury thermostats, but contain no mercury,
are also available.
(5) The Commonwealth supports shared responsibility for all stakeholders including
manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, local and state governments working to resolve
those issues and efforts to reduce mercury entering the atmosphere and water supply
from all sources in the most cooperative and cost-effective means available.
(6) The nonprofit Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC), created and supported by
thermostat manufacturers, is a voluntary program designed to collect mercury thermostats
from wholesalers. The TRC has been operating in this Commonwealth since 2000 and has recycled almost
30,000 thermostats, thereby diverting more than 284 pounds of mercury in seven years
in Pennsylvania. This Commonwealth has been a consistently high-performing state under the program,
with collections higher than all but five other states in 2007. Collections in Pennsylvania peaked at 7,019 thermostats in 2006.
(7) It is in the public interest to increase the scope and effectiveness of mercury
thermostat collection programs through promotion and expansion of recycling efforts
and banning the sale, installation and disposal of mercury thermostats in this Commonwealth.
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