Monday, October 20, 2008

Sierra Club California Hails New Mercury-Prevention Tool

Today, I joined Assemblymember Ira Ruskin in celebrating passage of The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act.

This new law creates a powerful tool to help consumers, governments and our environment. Since mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and many old thermostats contain three grams of mercury, we need to keep the waste thermostats out of our landfills. Most California consumers want to do the right thing, but until now they have not had the information or opportunity to recycle mercury thermostats.

Furthermore, this mercury thermostat recycling program, passed with the support of the major manufacturers, can provide a new model for dealing with household hazardous wastes in California. Instead of asking our cash-strapped local governments to shoulder the burden, we should require the companies that made and profited from products to take the responsibility for safely collecting and recycling them. The Legislature and Governor should use this thermostat law as a beginning, and move on to extending producer responsibility to paint, light bulbs and other household hazardous wastes.

Many individuals and organizations contributed to the enactment of this law. Sierra Club California thanks Assemblymember Ruskin for persistently pushing the bill over two years. Our co-sponsor, the local government organization California Product Stewardship Council, was an invaluable partner, and the Department of Toxic Substances Control gave crucial technical assistance throughout the process. The Honeywell Corporation showed a commitment to reaching agreement on difficult issues, and the Retailers Association actively supported the bill. We benefited from the input of experts and advocates throughout the country convened by the State Environmental Leadership Program.

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