Canadians have recycled more than 45,000 mercury-containing thermostats, thanks to the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada's (HRAI's) Switch the Stat program.
Introduced in 2006, the Switch the Stat program provides businesses and residents with a safe and easy way to dispose of old thermostats that contain mercury. It also encourages businesses and residents to replace their old thermostats with energy efficient, programmable units to help reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
To date, the program has safely recovered more than 178 kilograms of mercury.
Older mechanical thermostats can have up to four mercury switches, each containing 2.5 grams of mercury.
These thermostat units are recycled through a three-step process:
-removal of the glass vial that contains the mercury
-separation of the mercury through distillation
-recycling of the thermostats' metal components, such as iron, copper, nickel and aluminum.
Currently, the program operates in Ontario, British Columbia (B.C.) and Manitoba. HRAI plans to expand the program to other provinces in the future.
"HRAI is thrilled with the success of the program over the past five years and is proud to have kept more than 45,000 thermostats out of landfills," said HRAI President Warren Heeley. "The mercury reclaimed to date would have been more than enough to contaminate all the fish in some favourite lakes - such as Kootenay Lake in B.C., Lake Manitoba and Lake Simcoe in Ontario."
For a list of drop-off locations, visit www.switchthestat.ca
This news item first appeared in EcoLog News (8/5/11). To learn how to subscribe, visit www.ecolog.com