Mercury Product Disposal Control Act
The Mercury Product Disposal Control Act (the Act), Tennessee Code Annotated Title 68, Chapter 211, Part 2, prohibits “covered generators” from disposing “mercury-added consumer products” as non-hazardous solid waste.
Department of Environment and Conservation inspectors are required by the Act to make the following statement to the owner or similar authority at a facility undergoing an inspection:
“Are you aware that, if any of the following criteria apply to your business and your business utilizes mercury-added consumer products, such as fluorescent light bulbs, the Mercury Product Control Act applies to your business:
(1) Employs ten (10) or more employees;
(2) Owns or maintains a building of at least three thousand (3,000) square feet, excluding private residences;
(3) Owns or maintains one (1) or more electrical distribution systems;
(4) Engages in the demolition of buildings, excluding private residences; or
(5) Owns or operates a tanning bed salon?
The Mercury Product Control Act requires proper recycling of mercury-added consumer products rather than disposing of such products in the solid waste stream. Do you have a plan for recycling mercury-added consumer products?”
The Act prohibits covered generators from disposing of mercury-added consumer products in any Subtitle D facility (non-hazardous waste landfill). The Act also states that persons who separate and collect from a municipal solid waste stream either mercury-added consumer products from generators that are not covered generators, or mercury-containing excluded products, shall be subject to the same requirements that apply to covered generators.
The intent of the Act is to encourage recycling of mercury-added consumer products otherwise destined for disposal. However, the Act provides covered generators the option to dispose of mercury-added consumer products as a hazardous waste. Therefore, covered generators must ensure that their discarded mercury-added consumer products are shipped for recycling, treatment, or disposal to either a universal waste destination facility or a hazardous waste management facility that has been permitted to manage such materials by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursuant to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); by a state program that has been authorized by the EPA to implement the pertinent portions of RCRA in the state; or by a foreign government. The Act also requires that the covered generator manage these materials as hazardous waste pursuant to Tennessee Rules 0400-12-01-.03 through 0400-12-01-.07 or as universal waste pursuant to Tennessee Rule 0400-12-01-12.
“Covered Generators” are generators that:
(A) Employ ten (10) or more employees;
(B) Own or maintain a building, excluding private residences, of a least three thousand (3,000) square feet;
(C) Own or maintain electrical distribution systems;
(D) Own or operate a business that demolishes buildings, excluding private residences; or
(E) Own or operate a tanning bed salon business.
“Mercury-added consumer products” are any material, device, or part of a device:
(A) Into which elemental mercury or mercury compounds are intentionally added during the formulation or manufacture of such material or device; and
(B) In which the continued presence of mercury is required to provide a specific characteristic, appearance or quality, or to perform a specific function.
These include, but are not limited to:
(iii) Switches (whether individually or as part of another product);
(iv) Medical or scientific instruments;
(v) Electrical relays and other electrical devices;
(vi) Lamps and light bulbs; and
(vii) Batteries other than those defined as mercury containing excluded products.
Excluded products include:
(i) Photographic film and paper;
(ii) Pharmaceutical products;
(iii) Biological products;
(iv) Any substance that can lawfully be sold over the counter without a prescription under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, 21 U.S.C. § 301, et seq.;
(v) Button batteries used in hearing aids, radios, cameras, and other devices;
(vi) Medical devices; or
(vii) Restorative dental materials.
Effects of Improper Disposal
Information regarding the effects of improper disposal of mercury can be found on the Tennessee Department of Health’s Mercury website.
All solid and hazardous wastes, including those covered by the Mercury Products Disposal Control Act, must be disposed in accordance with the Rules of the Division of Solid Waste Management (0400-11-01 et seq. Solid Waste Processing and Disposal and 0400-12-01 et seq. Hazardous Waste Management).
The following facilities may be able to assist with managing your mercury products/waste. Please contact them directly.
• Clean Harbors
• Excel TSD, Inc.
• Lighting Resources
• Perma-Fix Environmental Services (Materials and Energy Corporation, Diversified Scientific Services, Inc.)
• Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc.
• Southeast Recycling Technologies
The Division of Solid Waste Management has prepared a list of fluorescent bulb recyclers—which does not constitute an endorsement of any, nor an assertion that this is a full and complete list.
Contact your local TDEC Environmental Field Office at (888) 891-TDEC  for more information.