Mercury Collection Options

Bowling Green State University's free mercury recycling services ended December 15th, 2010. Options for collecting mercury are below.

Permanent and Temporary HHW Collection Events
Any SWMD that operates a permanent HHW collection center or stages temporary HHW collection events is likely to already collect mercury as part of these events. If mercury is currently collected outside of these events, any HHW service provider should be able to add collection of mercury as part of the event.

Collection Options for Specific Items:

Thermostats may be the easiest mercury containing item to manage. The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) is a non-profit organization that provides a very low-cost mail-back collection program for mercury-containing thermostats. HVAC wholesalers, contractors, retailers, and HHW collection sites are eligible to participate in the program.

Information on this mail-back program can be found at the following web site:

Compact fluorescent bulbs are another common household item that contain very small amounts of mercury. One easy option for residents wanting to recycle their used, unbroken compact fluorescent bulbs is to utilize the free CFL take-back recycling programs offered at all Lowes and Home Depot hardware stores (see links below).

Thermometers and other small mercury-containing devices
Other common household items containing mercury include thermometers, blood-pressure cuffs (sphygmomanometers), and other small mercury-containing items. Several waste management companies offer relatively low-cost mail-back programs that could be used to collect and recycle the mercury in these devices.

Typically, these mail-back programs involve paying a fee to receive a postage paid, sealable container that is used to ship the items back to the waste management company for processing. These types of programs may be a viable option to collect and manage certain types of mercury containing devices. For example, this may be a very simple, low-cost option to collect thermometers. It may be less practical for other devices due to weight restrictions on the shipping containers. (Due to federal transportation restrictions, all of the programs have a one-pound mercury limit per container).

Elemental Mercury and Unusual Mercury Containing Devices
Elemental mercury poses a much higher risk for contamination than many of the other items previously mentioned, and the costs to decontaminate a structure, particularly a residence, can be significant. Therefore, elemental mercury should be handled with care.