Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-350

Title:

AN ACT REQUIRING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MANUFACTURER MERCURY THERMOSTAT COLLECTION AND RECYCLING PROGRAMS.

Vote Date:

3/23/2012

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/16/2012

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Sen. Meyer

National Electrical Manufacturer's Association

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill would mandate that every manufacturer that has ever sold mercury thermostats in the state implement a thermostat-recycling program. The bill mandates that thermostat manufacturers provide a number of services, including providing collection bins, signs, written materials, and education and outreach programs, and also outlines duties and responsibilities of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in regard to mercury recycling.

Substitute Language:

In line 51, the phrase “not greater than” was imposed before “seventy-five” in order to allow manufacturers to charge fees of less than seventy-five dollars. Lines 104 to 126 were struck and replaced with a new paragraph in order to mandate that no person shall dispose of a mercury thermostat other than recycling it or disposing it as hazardous waste on and after January 1, 2013.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Daniel Esty, Commissioner, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP):

DEEP is opposed to S.B. 350 because it does not improve the low recycling rates of the current voluntary recycling programs offered by thermostat manufacturers. The Department instead supports the proposed bill S.B. 93, which provides financial incentives for contractors and technicians to recycle mercury thermostats.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Mark Kohorst, Senior Manager for Environment, Health & Safety, National Electrical Manufacturer's Association (NEMA):

NEMA supports S.B. 350 because it would mandate contractor and wholesaler participation, authority for the industry to manage risk, and shared education and outreach responsibilities. NEMA also supports S.B. 350 because it does not provide a “bounty” financial incentive for contractors and technicians to recycle mercury thermostats, a provision they believe is ineffective and unnecessary.

Lynn Taborsak, Solid Waste Specialist, League of Women Voters, supports SB 350. Mercury can impact air quality when incinerated, water supplies when landfilled, and is highly toxic. Improper disposal of mercury releases 9.6 million tons in the U.S., and nine states have adopted recycling programs like that in SB 350. The bill is an example of good “Product Stewardship”, and contains a provision to revise the program as manufacturers develop non-toxic alternatives to mercury.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Anne Hulick, RN, MS, JD, Coordinator of Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut, opposes SB 350, and would vastly prefer the approach of SB 93. While the bill requires a recycling program and distribution of collection containers to “participating” collection sites, there are few such sites available. The education and outreach efforts of 2013-2016 only address “participating” sites with no incentive to increase their number or requirement that current sites distribute educational material. Third, the bill collection sites are automatically in compliance if they collect thermostats and post signs. 350 also shifts the burden of reporting and educating to DEEP, and recommendations for improvements are not required until 2017.

Susan Eastwood, Director of Outreach and Communications, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT, opposes SB 350 and submitted four fact sheets. According to the Product Stewardship Institute, the voluntary program through the Thermostat Recycling Corporation currently in place in CT has not demonstrated effectiveness in recycling the 38,300 thermostats coming out of service annually. TRC collected 1,838 mercury thermostats, 5.2 per 10,000 residents, while in Maine TRC collected 40 per 10,000 residents, thanks to a $5 bounty established in 2006. Per the PSI: “We know from experience with other states what it takes to create a successful collection program: 1. Conveniently located collection points across the state. 2 Active and sustained education and outreach campaigns 3. Transparent reporting of program results. 4. Enforcement Mechanisms 5. Meaningful collection goals. 6. Financial incentive to encourage the return of old mercury thermostats for recycling.”

Reported by: Kelsey Sullivan

Date: 4/17/12