State environmental officials announce new mercury products recycling grants

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR, has initiated its first Mercury Products Recycling Grant program to assist local governments in creating or expanding mercury recycling programs for fluorescent lights, thermostats and other mercury-containing products.

In recent years, millions of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have replaced incandescent bulbs in households across the state and nation. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, typically 3-4 milligrams, similar in quantity to the tip of a ballpoint pen. In addition, households across the state are upgrading their heating and cooling controls from mercury thermostats to programmable thermostats. As CFLs, mercury thermostats and other products containing mercury reach the end of their useful life – and as state officials work to keep mercury and other heavy metals out of landfills – the need for improved recycling options for the public grows.

The Mercury Products Recycling Grant offers communities throughout the state the opportunity to fund public collection programs, increasing recovery and ensuring proper disposal of mercury-containing products. Collaborative public and private efforts to properly manage mercury-containing products and to minimize the release of mercury into the environment can provide significant long-term health and environmental benefits. This new DENR grant program – administered by the department’s Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach, or DEAO – is intended to increase the number of recycling centers throughout the state, adding to options such as the CFL recycling services sponsored by public utilities and offered at such retail stores as Lowes and Home Depot stores.

“We strongly encourage counties and municipalities to provide citizens recycling options for mercury-containing products,” said DEAO Director Edythe McKinney. “With financial and technical assistance available from the state, starting a program should be easy and will certainly help to reduce the environmental impacts of mercury pollution.”

For more information about the grant program, city and county government officials interesting in applying for funding should visit DEAO’s Local Government Recycling Assistance grants program webpage at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/recycling/lg/financial-assistance. Questions about the Mercury Products Recycling Grant program can be directed to Sandee Roof at sandee.roof@ncdenr.gov or 919-707-8116.


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