The End of Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVS) organization recently collected its three millionth mercury-containing automotive switch as part of the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NVMSRP). ELVS was created by the automotive industry to promote environmental efforts, outreach programs and the proper management of mercury and other substances of concern. ELVS is the NVMSRP partner responsible for collection, education and recycling of automotive mercury switches.
Historically, mercury switches were used in some automobiles for convenience lights (under the hood or in the trunk) and in some anti-lock braking systems. As of 2002, automakers no longer used mercury switches in new vehicles. However, an estimated 32 million vehicles containing mercury switches are still in use. When retired vehicles are crushed, shredded or smelted, however, the mercury from the switches can be released into the environment. That is why ELVS works with its partner, EQ – The Environmental Quality Company, to ensure mercury switches are properly recycled.
Retrieving the switches before vehicles are melted down will keep an estimated 32 metric tons of mercury out of the environment. To date, there are over 9,000 facilities participating in the program in 49 states. The 3 million switches collected have saved more than 6,600 pounds of mercury from being released into the environment!
Program successes have been achieved by providing states with educational outreach programs and the information and supplies needed to remove, collect and transport switches to proper recycling and disposal facilities on a nationwide basis. Educational materials include a variety of web resources, written training materials and training videos.
This national program includes a commitment by automakers to provide information regarding switch removal and to take responsibility for collection, transportation, and recycling of the switches. Auto dismantlers and others who recover switches will submit them to EQ for proper management.
“EQ is proud to partner with ELVS to reduce the impact of mercury in our environment,” stated Tom Schuck, Executive Vice-President of EQ. “We provide a quick and easy way to prevent automotive mercury from going to the vehicle shredder.” ELVS, through EQ, provides recyclers with storage buckets for the collection of automotive mercury switches. These buckets, shipped by common carrier, contain all applicable training materials and necessary shipping documents. Recyclers remove the switches and place the mercury switches in the provided bucket. Once the bucket is ready for shipment, it is returned via UPS at no-cost to the shipper. EQ will then facilitate the recycling of the mercury switches.