Removing Mercury Convenience Switches
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has a voluntary program, using End of Life Vehicle Solutions, that helps auto salvage facilities remove convenience switches from vehicles before they are shredded for recycling.
About Mercury Convenience Switches
Until they were phased out in model 2003 vehicles, many American automobiles used switches that included mercury. These switches most often were used for the convenience lights found in the vehicle's trunk and under the hood.
If these mercury-containing switches are not removed from scrap vehicles, the mercury they contain can be emitted into the atmosphere when the vehicle is recycled.
In December 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new air-emission standards to reduce mercury releases by steel manufacturers that use electric arc furnaces. It requires these facilities to buy motor-vehicle scrap from providers participating in an EPA-approved, mercury-switch removal program. Read more about the EPA's National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program.
The Mercury Convenience Switch Recovery Program
In the TCEQ program, auto salvage facilities should not have to pay any of the costs associated with storing, shipping, and processing the mercury convenience switches they remove from the vehicles they process.
Participating facilities will receive the following items free of charge:
- collection buckets; submit a request
- instructions from the manufacturers for locating and removing the switches from the automobiles they process, and
- instructions on returning filled buckets for processing.
Once the bucket is full, End of Life Vehicle Solutions
will pay for the bucket to be mailed to an approved processing facility where the mercury will be recycled.
Any auto salvage facility interested in participating in this program can call 1-877-225-ELVS, or send e-mail to End of Life Vehicle Solutions (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive a free switch-collection bucket, and other resources and materials.
End of Life Vehicle Solutions also provides information about collecting mercury convenience switches on its Web site.
Recycling other Common Mercury-containing devices
Locate a recycler for your mercury-containing thermostats at the Thermostat Recycling Corporation website.
Identify a location for recycling your fluorescent lamps or CFL bulbs at certain lamp and bulb retailers and mail-in programs that accept fluorescent bulbs and lamps for recycling.
For more information about recycling other household materials, visit Household Hazardous Waste: A Guide for Texans.