Bans Disposal of Computer and Television Monitors and Calls for Agency to Plan for Statewide Collection of Hazardous Electronics
NRCM News release
Augusta, Maine – The Legislature has adopted a bill that bans landfilling and incineration of computer and television monitors effective January 1, 2006 and sets in motion a process to provide for collection and recycling of hazardous electronic waste. “An Act to Protect Public Health and the Environment,” (LD 743), introduced by Rep. Judd Thompson (D. China), passed the Senate yesterday after clearing the House on Tuesday. The bill led a nationwide trend of measures to make manufacturers of electronic products take financial responsibility for safely managing these products at the end of their useful lives.
Computers, televisions and other electronics contain an array of toxic materials, including lead, mercury, beryllium and cadmium. The cathode ray tubes in each computer or TV monitor contain 3-8 pounds of lead. It is estimated that Maine residents and small businesses generated some 300 tons of lead waste from these products in 2002.
“The Legislature was right to ban disposal of toxic computer monitors and television sets,” said Jon Hinck, toxics project leader with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Now we urgently need to take the next step and provide for free and convenient collection of hazardous electronic waste throughout the State of Maine.”
The Maine bill creates a “stakeholders group” with a mandate to assist the State Department of Environmental Protection in developing an e-waste collection and recycling plan. [The group, composed of representatives of state municipal governments, potentially affected businesses and public interest groups, including NRCM, is set to meet for the first time on June 5, 2003.]
This week, California joined Maine and more than a dozen other states to take up bills to address producer responsibility for toxic computer waste.
“We cannot count on federal action to address this problem, and we cannot ignore the threat to our communities from lead and other toxins in discarded computers and consumer electronics,” said Hinck.
The current status of state e-waste legislation in the U.S. is cataloged in an interactive map recently released on the Campaign’s website.
There are an estimated 300 million obsolete computers in the U.S., with fewer than 10 percent destined for recycling each year.