New law to get more mercury out of the waste stream takes effect

Contact: Ralph Pribble, 651-757-2657

St. Paul, Minn. — Manufacturers of thermostats that contain mercury will be taking on greater responsibility for keeping these products out of garbage cans and sewers.

Beginning Friday, August 1, no mercury-containing products will be allowed into a solid waste or wastewater disposal system, or a solid waste processing or disposal facility. The law, enacted by Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature in 2014, removes exemptions to the state’s existing bans on sale and disposal of products containing mercury.

This means that homeowners should not discard any mercury-containing product down the drain or in the garbage. For household mercury products, all of the state’s household hazardous waste disposal facilities will accept almost every type of mercury item for no charge. (Some facilities do charge a small amount for fluorescent lamps.) For business mercury products, all of the state’s collection sites for hazardous waste generators will accept unwanted mercury products.

Manufacturers will be held accountable for the costs of collecting old mercury thermostats when they are replaced. The law also removes exemptions from the ban on sales of mercury thermometers, including mercury thermometers for food research and processing. Those items are now banned since the Food and Drug Administration no longer requires their use in such facilities.

The law was sponsored by Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Sen. John Marty (DFL-Roseville).