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[greenyes] Arkansas Enacts Mercury Switch Removal Bill


March 8, 2005

For Immediate Release

Arkansas Enacts Mercury Switch Removal Bill

For More Information:
Mark Reiter, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, 202/662-8517,
MarkReiter@no.address;
Kevin Mills, Environmental Defense, 202/387-3500,
kmills@no.address;
Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center, 734/663/2400 x117, jeffg@no.address;
Chip Foley, Steel Recycling Institute, 202/458-7177, wjfoley@no.address;
George Eliades, Automotive Recyclers Association, 703/385-1001,
george@no.address

Washington - Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made history when he signed the
"Mercury Switch Removal Act of 2005" at 9:30 am central time today, March
8th. This new state law establishes a program that requires mercury
switches to be removed from end of life vehicles before they are crushed, or
flattened, and shredded. Automobile manufacturers are made financially
responsible for the removal and collection of the switches, their
transportation to mercury retorters, and the recovery of the gram of mercury
each switch contains.

For nearly three decades, U.S. auto manufacturers used mercury in some light
switches found in autos - particularly for switches controlling lights in
the trunk and under the hood. While the use of mercury in these switches
was banned in 2003, over 200 million autos containing these switches were
produced between 1974 and 2003 using over 440,000 pounds of mercury. Last
year, over 7 million vehicles containing mercury switches were "retired"
from the road. Removing these mercury switches from vehicles prevents this
mercury from being vaporized as the scrap metals from these vehicles is
remelted and remanufactured.

"Mercury switches create a serious health concern that also threatens to
disrupt the most successful recycling program in North America," SRI
President Bill Heenan said referring to steel's recycling record, which
surpasses that of all other materials.

Jeff Gearhart, of the Ecology Center said, "This program provides auto
makers with a cost effective solution to rectify a dangerous design choice
they made despite the availability of a cheap, equally effective and
environmentally benign alternative."

The Arkansas bill is based on a model developed by the Partnership for
Mercury Free Vehicles (PMFV), a coalition made up of organizations including
the Automotive Recyclers Association, the Ecology Center, Environmental
Defense, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the Steel Recycling
Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association. As in this new law, the
PMFV's model legislation requires automakers to take responsibility - -
including financial -- for the safe removal for mercury containing light
switches from end-of-life vehicles, prior to being shredded and recycled
into new products.

Under the new Arkansas law, auto makers must pay $5 for each switch removed
and additional $1 per switch to the Arkansas Department of Environmental
Protection for oversight of the program. The bill passed the Arkansas
legislature with an overwhelming bi-partisan vote - only one member having
voted against the bill. This legislation will also become the first law in
the nation that requires auto manufacturers to report on steps taken to
design vehicles and their components for recycling.

The "Design For Recycling" provision in the bill is based on the same
concept as the federal "Community Right To Know" program, which requires
persons who store hazardous or toxic materials to disclose them, their
amounts, concentrations, and locations. Under the new Arkansas statute,
auto manufacturers must report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental
Quality:

- A listing of all parts that contain mercury and design changes that have
occurred to reduce mercury;

- Policies implemented to insure that vehicles are designed to be recycled
in a safe, cost-effective, and environmentally sound manner;

- A listing of all complaints and reports received by manufacturers within
the past 12 months from vehicle recyclers, scrap recycling facilities, and
government entities;

- Any facts and circumstances about which the manufacturers are aware that
their vehicles contain components or are designed in such a way that present
environmental risks that make it uneconomical to recycle the vehicles or
components; and

- Design or manufacturing changes a manufacturer has implemented or is
implementing to reduce or remove any environmental risks and the year in
which design changes will eliminate the risk.

The new Arkansas law is seen as a major step forward by the Institute of
Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), which is a founding member of the
Partnership for Mercury Free Vehicles, which has been advocating for such
legislation since 2001. For nearly 20 years, ISRI has been advocating Design
for Recycling®, a program that promotes the design and manufacture of goods
that, at the end of their useful lives, can be recycled safely and
efficiently. It is an essential element in preproduction planning for safe
and efficient recycling by the elimination of hazardous and nonrecyclable
materials from the production process.

"Including a Design For Recycling provision in the Arkansas mercury switch
removal bill will provide the public with information about how serious auto
manufacturers are about designing their products to increase their
recyclability and to protect our environment to the maximum extent
practicable. Now, consumers can make purchases based on this information,"
said Robin Wiener, President of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

Similar mercury switch removal legislation has been passed by the New Jersey
legislature with the bill awaiting the Governor's signature. Other states,
including Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and
Massachusetts are considering mercury switch removal bills.
__________________
Mike Garfield
Director
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3186 ext. 104
(734) 663-2414 (fax)
michaelg@no.address
www.ecocenter.org





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