Mar 8 - National Agreement Reached on Auto Mercury Recycling

US EPA, the Auto Industry, Recyclers and Environmental groups have reached a tentative agreement on a national program aimed at reducing mercury emissions by safely removing and recycling mercury containing switches from automobiles prior to dismantling.

Elements of the agreement include:

  • Automakers and the steel industry would create a three-year, $4 million fund to support the program. Both industries would promote the program.
  • Automakers would be responsible for the collection, transportation and recycling of the switches.
  • Auto dismantlers who recover the switches would submit them to the program.
  • The program will be regularly evaluated to assess its progress. It's expected to be used until 2017, when about 90 percent of the vehicles containing the mercury switches will be off the road.

Mercury released into the environment can accumulate in plants, fish and humans. Children and fetuses are vulnerable to the effects of the toxic metal, which can damage the development of the nervous system.

Earlier this year, in negotiations led by California Assembly Member Lloyd Levine, the auto industry, auto dismantlers and recyclers, and Californians Againste Waste reached agreement a similar, statewide program for California.