Can I Recycle my Thermostat?
Resideo’s Resident Recycling Expert Weighs in on Industry Standards
By: Arnie Meyer*, Industry Relations Manager and Committee Chair of the Thermostat Recycling Corporation
Clunky computer monitors. Outdated television sets. A fax machine circa 1995. You know them. You own them. But, what do you do with "e-waste" electronics at the end of their useful life?
Internet searches for 'electronic recycling near me' are up 120%** year over year – showing that as demand for new electronics increase, so too does the demand to dispose the old devices responsibly. If e-waste can be responsibly recycled, we can reduce the demand for mining heavy metals and mitigate the environmental costs.
I’ve been with Honeywell and now Resideo for 23 years, and am proud of our past, but even more excited about the future. Resideo and our partners are focused on solving the real problems facing our planet today.
I’m an avid cyclist as it affords me the chance to enjoy our planet and focus on making a better sustainable future for generations.
Types of Thermostats
You may be surprised to learn what counts as e-waste, including… your old thermostat. There are three main types of thermostats, and each are recycled differently:
- - Thermostats with mercury use a dial or lever to adjust temperature settings are likely to contain mercury and must be disposed of at a drop-off location because exposure to mercury vapor can be harmful to your health. These devices are no longer made, but safe to use as long as the ampule containing mercury remains intact, but the law requires that anyone replacing a thermostat containing mercury properly dispose of the entire unit. Once at the final recovery site, mercury vessels are removed from the thermostat and consolidated. Next, the glass and mercury are separated. The mercury is triple distilled and sold for re-use depending on market demands or it is stored.
- - Programmable thermostats are usually made of high-impact Poly styrene material. Once at the final recovery site, the plastics and metals are processed and sold for re-use through resource recovery services, including the electronic/electrical components (e-waste). The thermostat typically contains two alkaline batteries. The EPA offers tips for proper disposal of alkaline batteries.
- - WiFi thermostats connect to the internet and are also made with high-impact Poly styrene material along with Polycarbonate/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Once at the final recovery site, the plastics and metals are processed and sold for re-use through resource recovery services, including the electronic/electrical components (e-waste). These WIFi enabled thermostats do not contain Alkaline batteries.
How to Safely Recycle your Thermostat
Whether you’ve just uninstalled your previous thermostat, or you're looking to do so in the future, we recommend safely recycling your outdated thermostat via one of these three options:
- Call your HVAC professional to uninstall and properly recycle your old thermostat.
- Find an industry-approved drop-off location to dispose of your device properly in the U.S. or in Canada.
- Check with local retailers, such as Best Buy, that recycle e-waste for free, or find a local recycling program through Keep America Beautiful.
History and Impact of Recycling
Up until the early 2000’s, HVAC manufacturers used mercury in thermostats to control heating and air conditioning units in homes and buildings.
In 1998, the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) was founded in the U.S. by thermostat manufacturers aimed at safely collecting thermostats containing mercury. A similar group was formed in Canada in 2006, called the Thermostat Recovery Program (TRP).
According to the TRP, an older thermostat can have one to four mercury vessels inside, and each vessel contains 2.5 grams of mercury. Together between the U.S., and Canadian organizations, they have collected nearly three million mercury thermostats and also loose vessels. This amounts to more than 13 tons of mercury that have been safely extracted, collected and disposed of properly.
The TRC keeps track of thermostat collection laws, which vary by state, and according to data from 2021, following is a list that demonstrates, in order, the number of thermostat collected by state (from most to least).
|1. California||11. Connecticut||21. Nebraska||31. Arizona||41. Kansas|
|2. Minnesota||12. Maryland||22. New Hampshire||32. South Dakota||42. Delaware|
|3. Pennsylvania||13. Rhode Island||23. Colorado||33. North Dakota||43. Montana|
|4. Illinois||14. North Carolina||24. Oregon||34. Washington||44. Arkansas|
|5. Massecuites||15. Indiana||25. Montana||35. Louisiana||45. Idaho|
|6. Wisconsin||16. Florida||26. South Carolina||36. Utah||46. Mississippi|
|7. Maine||17. Vermont||27. Georgia||37. New Mexico||47. Oklahoma|
|8. Ohio||18. Virginia||28. Iowa||38. West Virginia|
|9. Michigan||19. Texas||29. Kentucky||39. Nevada|
|10. New York||20. New Jersey||30. Tennessee||40. Alabama|
More Ways to Be Green
As a founding member of TRC, Resideo is proud to support the mission of safely recycling thermostats. We work to reduce the environmental impact of our operations and our offerings, to help make the world a more sustainable place. And we are committed to offering our customers the latest smart thermostat technology that can help them curb their energy usage, offer access to more clean energy and conserve resources and money.
Find and unlock rebates from your local utility or conduct your own in-home energy audit to save even more. With more ENERGY STAR-rated products than any other company, Resideo can help you to continue on your own sustainability journey: visit our energy solutions page to learn more.
**According to Google search data from Sep. 2020 – Sep. 2021.
*Arnold 'Arnie' Meyer is based in Minnesota and is an Industry Relations manager focusing on codes and standards for Resideo and its Honeywell Home brand of products. Arnie held senior-level Inside Sales, Customer Care and Product Support positions. Arnie chairs the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) Board of Directors, of which Resideo (previously Honeywell) is a founding member.