auto recycling crane
Auto dismantlers and shredders are part of the coalition working to remove mercury switches from scrapped vehicles.
Photo provided by Dreamstime

Mercury switch program extended

Steelmakers, recyclers, EPA agree to maintain efforts to keep mercury out of melt shops.

October 17, 2022

Representatives of steelmaking and recycling associations have renewed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to maintain funding for the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NVMSRP). The MOU extends the effort to divert mercury-containing switches found in some vehicles from auto shredders and melt shops through July 1, 2027.

The MOU was agreed to by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the Washington-based Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA); the Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI); the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI); the Manassas, Virginia-based Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA); and the Michigan-based End of Life Vehicle Solutions Corp. (ELVSC).

The NVMSRP MOU initially was designed by EPA and industry stakeholders in 2006. To date, the program has prevented the release of more than 8.2 tons of mercury into the atmosphere, AISI says in a news release.

Via the multiple associations involved, some 10,000 recycling companies have removed and separately recycled more than 7.4 million automotive mercury switches, say the groups and EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Joseph Goffman.

“The extension of the NVMSRP assures continuity of an important program for recyclers, the steel industry and the auto industry, that benefits the environment," ISRI President Robin Wiener says. "The program continues the safe and secure removal of mercury switches from vehicles.”

“The partnership exemplified by the MOU is a great example of what can be accomplished when the government and private sector work together on environmental preservation, and we look forward to continued cooperation between the steel and auto industries on this important initiative,” AISI President and CEO Kevin Dempsey says.

“The ELVSC team is happy that EPA has reaffirmed its commitment to this important nationwide program," ELVSC President Matthew Duffy says. "We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, SMA and AISI, in our ongoing effort to recycle automotive mercury switches.”