TRC Opposes Connecticut’s HB 70657 To Keep Mercury Recycling as Effective as Possible

TRC Opposes Connecticut’s HB 70657 To Keep Mercury Recycling as Effective as Possible

Posted March 9, 2017

On February 22, 2017, testimony authored by Thermostat Recycling Corporation’s (TRC) Executive Director, Ryan Kiscaden, was presented to the Connecticut Joint Legislative Committee, urging them to vote against HB 7067.

The proposal, in its current form, would give the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) the authority to make “any object or substance” a covered product within the state stewardship program. It would be done outright, without consulting trained recycling experts or allowing for proper management of product categories.

A Vetted Recycling Program Exists

Public Act 12-54, signed in Connecticut in 2012, is “An Act Requiring the Establishment of Manufacturer Mercury Thermostat Collection and Recycling Programs.” It created the establishment of a manufacturer mercury thermostat collection and recycling program.

Under the act, beginning in July 2014, a legal obligation was levied on Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) wholesalers and large contractors to serve as thermostat collection sites for a recycling program funded by thermostat manufacturers. It also added structure and authority to TRC’s activities in Connecticut. As a result, TRC works closely with state regulatory authorities such as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Because of collaborations like these, that the number of collection bins across the state quadrupled by 2015, and thermostat collections rose from 1,831 thermostats in 2012 to almost 3,400 in 2015. 

To strengthen the act further, Kiscaden explained that “even when legislation works, there are improvements or “fixes” to consider.” They include concrete ideas such as expanding the obligation to recycle thermostats to contractors who replace a mercury thermostat when conducting energy efficiency or weatherization programs administered by private or semi-private utilities, affirming that the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection shall (as opposed to “may”) enforce the law’s obligations, and establish a “sunset” date beyond which the program will continue to operate voluntarily.

Lacks Shared Responsibility

In discussing the obstacles HB 7067 presents to TRC’s current collection model, Kiscaden said that by providing the state’s DEEP with the authority to make “any object or substance” a covered product within a state stewardship program, it “lacks shared responsibility” and the specificity necessary for proper management of product categories. Currently, each product category is serviced, handled and managed differently at the end of its useful life. 

Products such as mercury thermostats happen to be in homes, yet are much different in their disposal to other household goods, he explained. The reason for this is that, in the majority of cases, trained professionals handle the de-installation.

Kiscaden warned against any legislation which is one size fits all, because it will make severe assumptions about the most effective ways disposal occurs.

It’s Not Broke Don’t Fix It

Under Public Act 12-54, Connecticut has positioned itself as one of TRC’s most impactful programs in the country upon implementation of the legislation

The program is effective under the current law and as a result, there are now less mercury-containing thermostats available for collection.

To read additional testimony presented at the February 22nd hearing , click here

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