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Projects Database

Automotive Mercury Switch Collection Recycling Project

Project Information

Award Amount:$55,000.00
Dollars Leveraged:$5,000.00
Start-End Dates:10/1/98-9/30/00
Description:Summary: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC), Division of Pollution Preventions’s pilot project focused on the collection and recycling of mercury switches from the hoods and trunks of automobiles. The goal of the project was to prevent an estimated 500 lbs. of mercury from entering the Great Lakes Basin, mostly from crushing and shredding operations at scrap and salvage yards. The automotive mercury switches (AMS) were voluntarily removed and collected from vehicles by scrap and salvage yards through participation at household hazardous waste collections and as a voluntary service provided by auto dealerships.

Environmental Results/Products: A model AMS Replacement/Recycling program for on-the-road vehicles was developed for use by automotive service establishments, used car dealerships, federal/state/local government fleets, and commercial fleets within the state of New York. *NYDEC also established an effective collection/recycling network for the continued removal of AMS from Automotive Recycling Yards. County governments (Erie and Monroe) are continuing with the collection, storage, and recycling of AMS from the yards that participated in this Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) grant project.

Successful AMS replacement programs were implemented with one used car dealership, 30 automotive service establishments, two Regional NYSDEC office fleets, one county (Erie) fleet, and one commercial fleet (Chemical Waste Management). Replacement switches were also used at several demonstration events and nearly 300 AMS were collected from public participants. Twenty-five hundred (2,500) ball-bearing replacement switches have been distributed in these programs, resulting in the eventual collection and recycling of nearly 5.5 pounds of mercury from these switches. County governments (Erie and Monroe) will continue to collect, store, and recycle AMS from the established replacement programs.

NYSDEC provided direct technical assistance over a two-day period to the State of Connecticut by training their staff, local government fleet supervisors, and a used car dealership on the subjects of AMS switch identification, removal, and replacement for on-the road vehicles. A meeting with the Automotive Recyclers Association of Connecticut also produced a cooperative effort to begin collection and recycling of AMS in end-of life vehicles. This effort demonstrates that an effective AMS collection/replacement program is easy to duplicate, given the information, tools, and logistical support developed under the grant.

A list of 430 Automotive Recycling Yards in New York State were made aware of the need to remove AMS from end-of-life vehicles through distribution of the document "Getting Mercury Out of Cars." The document was drafted as a collaborative effort between NYSDEC and the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers. In addition, NYSDEC assisted other states, including Connecticut and Wisconsin, with the distribution of the publication to yard owners under new programs for end-of-life vehicles that use the models developed by New York, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Getting automotive recycling yard owners to collect AMS from end-of-life vehicles was not universally accepted by all the yards that were asked to participate in the program, even though a no-cost option for the transportation and recycling of the switches they collected was offered. Additionally, the infrastructure does not exist for the economical recycling of AMS collected from automotive recycling yards and from switch replacement programs. It was also difficult to elicit public interest and participation in voluntary AMS replacement programs for on-the-road vehicles. Even news releases, radio announcements, and large poster displays at participating auto maintenance shops did not significantly increase public interest.

The NYDEC collected more than 5,000 automotive mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles at nearly 35 Automotive Recycling Yards. At 1 gram of mercury per switch, this equates to nearly 10.5 lbs of mercury collected. The mercury collected from the AMS end-of-life vehicles was sent to Mercury Waste Solutions for refining.


Funding Organizations

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.

U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office - Primary Contact

77 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, Illinois 60604
There are no individuals in this organization
associated with this project.

Organizations Receiving Funding

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Primary Contact

625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233-1750
p: 518-402-9469
Individual Contacts

Associated Organizations

Below is a list of associated organizations that are NOT giving or receiving funding for this project.

Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers - Partner

1401 Eye Street, N.W.
Suite 900
Washington, District of Columbia 20005
p: (202) 326-5500
f: (202) 326-5598

Automotive Recyclers Association of Connecticut - Partner


Mercury Waste Solutions Inc. - Partner

21211 Durand Avenue
Union Grove, Wisconsin 53182
p: 262-878-2599
f: 262-878-2699

Monro Muffler Shops - Partner

3000 W Henrietta Rd
Rochester, New York p: (585) 424-2400

Mr. Oil Change - Partner

1725 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14216
p: 716-835-3600

Niagara Frontier Automotive Dismantler Association - Partner

New York

State of Connecticut - Partner

Dept. of Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106-5127
p: (860) 424-3026

Valvoline Instant Oil Change - Partner

2199 E Henrietta Rd
Rochester, New York p: (585) 334-6590


Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)
One East Hazelwood Drive Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-8940

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