CAW Efforts to Reduce Mercury Pollution

Californians Against Waste has actively supported and sponsored several bills to address the creation of mercury pollution from a solid waste standpoint.

In 2004 we supported AB 1699, which moved towards the establishment of a safe and convenient system for the recycling of toxic fluorescent lamps, which contain notable amounts of mercury. Although the legislation did not pass, we continue to remain mindful of the remaining issue on how to ensure the proper disposal of fluorescent lights, while also supporting the use of highly-energy efficient technology.

In 2007, CAW sponsored AB 1109 (Huffman), which will substantially increase energy efficiency while also reducing the amount of toxics from lighting sources, including mercury from CFLs and create convenient recycling opportunities as well. The bill was signed by the Governor in October 2007. CAW followed up withAB 1173 (Huffman), which would have created convenient and free recycling of fluorescent lights for consumers. That bill was vetoed by the governor last year.

End-of-Life Vehicles are another area of concern, as they are sometimes crushed and melted without removing the vehicular light switches containing mercury. In 2005, CAW sponsored AB 1240 by Assembly Member Lloyd Levine, which would have established a producer-responsibility model for the establishment of a mercury switch collection program. Although the bill did not pass in legislature due to automaker opposition, CAW worked in a coalition with automobile stakeholders in early 2006 to establish a voluntary program that included funding by auto makers.

In 2005, CAW also supported AB 1415, authored by Assembly Member Fran Pavley, which was signed into law later that year. The bill prohibited the sale and use of products with mercury-containing switches, measuring devices and gastrointestinal tubes by January 1, 2006 if no adequate alternatives existed.

CAW is working on several other toxics issues this year. If you find you have a passion for toxic pollution prevention, read up more on our efforts in our related issues area.