Collects 8 Million Pounds of Waste, Saves Mainers $3 Million, Keeps 1 Million Pounds of Lead from Environment
The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) released a report detailing the accomplishments of Maine’s two-year-old, first-in-the-nation electronic waste recycling program that requires manufacturers to establish and pay for collection and recycling centers.
“By any measure, Maine’s electronic waste recycling law has been a huge success,” said Matt Prindiville, NRCM’s Toxics and Clean Production Project Director. “The law has saved Maine people 3 million dollars, kept a million pounds of lead out of our environment, and ensured safe recycling of over 8 million pounds of toxic electronic waste.”
January 18, 2008 marked the two-year anniversary of Maine’s innovative electronic waste (“e-waste”) law. During the two years Maine’s e-waste recycling program has been in operation, the concept of “shared responsibility” among citizens, manufacturers, and municipalities has been put to the test. As envisioned when enacted, the law has created a consumer-oriented, low-cost, and efficient system for ensuring that obsolete computers and TVs are disposed of safely.
Maine was the first state in the nation to establish this type of shared responsibility program. Now eleven states and New York City have e-waste laws in place, and fifteen other states have e-waste bills under consideration for 2008.
“As Maine goes, so goes the nation when it comes to e-waste recycling,” said Prindiville. “Now ten other states and New York City have created e-waste laws based on Maine’s successful approach, and 15 others are in the process as well.”
“I am pleased to see so many other state’s following the model set by Maine’s E-waste recycling law,” said Representative Theodore Koffman, House Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, who worked to pass the law in 2004. “Maine’s law demonstrates that environmental problems can be solved when businesses, citizens and the state work together.”
“By acting early, Maine avoided a tsunami of e-waste.” said Representative Jon Hinck, former NRCM staff attorney, who was instrumental in the law’s passage and implementation. “Ever since Maine acted, states and cities across the country have followed our lead.”
“We’re very pleased with the success of Maine’s E-Waste Law, and attribute if to our citizen’s strong recycling ethic, and the hard work of municipalities and our electronics recyclers,” said Carole Cifrino, Environmental Specialist with Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection. “Maine has diverted over 8 million pounds of waste from disposal to recycling, and has given manufacturers additional motivation to design their products with less toxics and to increase the reusability of materials at the end of their product’s life.”
The results have been impressive:
More than eight million pounds of electronic waste have been collected, preventing between 700,000 and 1.5 million pounds of lead, plus significant amounts of mercury, cadmium, and other toxic compounds, from entering Maine’s landfills and incinerators.
More than 184,000 computers and TVs have been collected and recycled, and access to e-waste collection is now available to Maine residents statewide.
More than 70% of Maine towns have year-round collection systems in place – a big improvement over the sporadic programs that existed in many towns prior to passage of the law.
Drop-off fees have been significantly reduced or eliminated for recycling of obsolete computers and televisions, and manufacturers have assumed end-of-life recovery costs for products that they produced.
Maine’s e-waste consolidation centers have submitted bills for, and received payment from, 150 manufacturers covering nearly 350 different brands of computers and TVs.
This approach is saving Maine consumers an estimated $1.37 million annually by transferring end-of-life recycling costs back to the manufacturers.