Mercury Collection Program
Preventing toxics like mercury from entering the waste stream is important to protecting our environment and water supply. An average fever thermometer contains one gram of mercury, an enormous amount when contrasted with compact fluorescent lights – which contain approximately 1/250th of that amount. Other medical devices like blood pressure meters (sphygmomanometers) can also contain significant amounts of mercury, in the range of 20-60 grams. Once in the waste stream, such devices may break and release mercury into the environment.
Covanta believes that the best strategy for preventing releases of mercury and other toxins into the environment is by reducing their use in consumer products. In order to achieve that goal, Covanta is a sustaining partner of the Product Stewardship Institute and actively supports legislation that would eliminate the use of mercury in consumer products— and if used, make the manufacturer responsible for the disposal of these products.
In the absence of a nationwide initiative to reduce or manage mercury in consumer products, Covanta has conducted mercury awareness collection programs since 2000 to inform the public that mercury-bearing items, such as thermometers and thermostats, should not be discarded with other municipal solid waste (MSW). The campaign began in Massachusetts and has now expanded through a focused effort to become a nationwide campaign. More than 1,000 pounds of mercury have been diverted from MSW through these efforts.
If you live in a community serviced by Covanta and would like more information about participating or starting a similar program, please contact your local facility. Click here to find a facility.