Recycling Batteries versus Mercury Containing Thermostats
TRC News

Recycling Batteries versus Mercury Containing Thermostats

Posted Mar 1, 2019 by Danielle Myers

When I saw the headline, “Call2Recycle Publishes Top States for Battery Recycling,” well, of course, I had to read who made our “cousin’s” list.

Americans are obsessed by rankings. The most glorified is the ranking of educational institutes. It has become a cash cow and a cottage industry that probably started with U.S. News & World Report, followed by others that got into the game.

There is a difference in the reporting, which I will describe shortly, but both of our organizations share a similar goal. Battery recyclers want to keep their product out of landfills and we work at it on our end by sending it to our recycling operation in Wisconsin.

For a comparison of the lists, we have

 Call2Recycle Top 10

  1. Vermont
  2. Delaware
  3. Georgia
  4. Minnesota
  5. California
  6. Illinois
  7. Tennessee
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Washington

Thermostat Recycling Corp.’s Top 10

  1. Massachusetts
  2. California
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Illinois
  5. Minnesota
  6. Ohio
  7. North Carolina
  8. Michigan
  9. New York
  10. Wisconsin

I should add that the top 10 list by Call2Recycle bases its ranking on collection per share of population. We rank our efforts on total number of recycled thermostats collected.

The comparison is interesting. Four of the top 10 states are on both lists: California, Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Call2Recycle says their Top 10 list were successful because of “strong participation from manufacturers along with public collection networks (municipalities and retailers). A surge in in the removal and managed of damaged batteries from the market and education awareness efforts also complemented collection efforts.”

I think that much can be said of TRC efforts, with one significant difference. We rely heavily on HVACR contractors, who remove the thermostats, and on HVACR wholesalers, who serve as the drop-off point.

The other point of course is that we continue to manufacture batteries (though technology is changing their components), while the manufacturing of mercury containing thermostats ended in 2006. We are on a continued reduction spiral that will eventually lead to zero in the foreseeable future. This is not the case with batteries.

These lists send several signals about the recycling industry. The first is that in some states, especially those that share a position on both lists, a plan exists for recycling of components that need it. It further suggests that there is a framework for implementing the plan, with a core network of committed participants against the backdrop of the most important element: a public and businesses that understand the vital need to do their part for a safer, more environmentally-friendly planet.