The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (HRAI) of Canada received approval of its Industry Stewardship Plan (ISP) for mercury-containing thermostats from Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) on March 24th 2010.
This approval marks the first time that an industry group has sought to discharge its environmental responsibilities outside of an established Industry Funding Organization (IFO). In this case, the Municipal Household and Special Waste (MSHW) IFO as operated by Stewardship Ontario on behalf of MHSW stewards.
HRAI’s objective is to divert all recovered older mercury-containing thermostats from disposal (primarily recovered as they are replaced with energy-efficient programmable thermostats). The ISP expands upon the existing Switch the ‘Stat program, which operates in Ontario with more than 1,300 participating HVAC contractors and wholesalers to include additional collection channels such as return-to-retail and send-back options to increase the accessibility and collection options.
Mercury-containing thermostats have internal mercury switches (mercury in a sealed glass bulb) that control the flow of electrical current with each thermostat containing an average of 3.5 grams of mercury. Major thermostat manufacturers no longer sell mercury thermostats.
The HRAI ISP is a full-extended producer responsibility (EPR) program with stewards participating in the ISP covering the full costs of the program.