What is Product Stewardship?
Product stewardship is the act of minimizing the health and environmental impacts of a product and its packaging throughout its life cycle. NRCM works hard to support a product stewardship policy approach called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which are laws that require product manufacturers to share in the responsibility of the safe collection and recycling or disposal of their products and packaging. When manufacturers take responsibility for establishing and funding recycling programs, they have an incentive to design greener, safer products that are less wasteful, more recyclable, and contain fewer toxins. EPR programs also save money for municipalities by shifting the costs of collection programs from the taxpayers to the producers and consumers.
Products that contain hazardous toxic chemicals are especially problematic, such as mercury-containing thermostats, fluorescent bulbs, rechargeable batteries, computer monitors, and other electronics. Toxic heavy metals such as mercury and lead can be released into the air if these products are burned in incinerators, or can leach into soil and drinking water if buried in landfills. Product stewardship and EPR laws are the best solution for managing toxic products like these. In short, these laws protect Maine’s air, land, water, wildlife, and people from toxic chemicals, save taxpayer dollars, and encourage sustainable products.
Maine's Product Stewardship Programs
Thanks to NRCM’s leadership on this important issue, Maine has one of the most comprehensive sets of product stewardship laws in the nation, and we are committed to the continued success of each of these important programs.
Maine’s Product Stewardship programs differ from traditional recycling programs, which are run and funded by municipal governments. Product Stewardship programs save costs for you, as a taxpayer, by targeting the most toxic and problematic products in our waste stream. These programs shift the costs of dealing with these difficult and dangerous items from town governments already stretched thin, to manufacturers, who have control over the safety and recyclability of the products they make and sell.
This page has information about how to recycle the most toxic and problematic items in our trash through programs that are funded by manufacturers.
- Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- Electronic Waste
- Rechargeable Batteries and Cell Phones
- Redeemable Beverage Containers
For more information about traditional recycling, contact your local municipal solid waste management program. Rules, restrictions, and programs differ among Maine’s 433 towns. Most localities are equipped to recycle traditional materials – plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass. Some towns offer curbside pickup for paper, plastic, and metal. Some towns maintain collection facilities at which residents can drop off their household recyclables. Your town’s website is often the best place to find information about how, where, and when to recycle traditional materials.
Earn $5.00 when you bring your old thermostat to one of more than 100 retail locations for recycling. Most towns also have waste collection sites where you can drop off your thermostat. You can also mail it back to the manufacturer for free.
Bring your thermostat to a participating wholesaler for a $5.00 mail-in coupon.
Bring your thermostat to a participating retailer for instant $5.00 store credit.
Send your thermostat back to the manufacturer in the mail.
Use the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) map to find out where to bring your old thermostat.
Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Recycle your used fluorescent light bulbs for free at more than a hundred retail locations and at many town waste collection sites.
Recycle your bulbs through your town’s municipal solid waste collection system.
Recycling your compact fluorescent bulbs(CFL) at a retail location.
Find a location on this list of all towns and retail locations that accept mercury-containing bulbs.
Use DEP’s map to find out where to bring your mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs:
Recycle your electronic waste (e-waste) for little or no cost at more than 300 municipal waste collection sites. Most towns accept televisions, portable DVD players, game consoles, computer monitors, laptops, printers, digital picture frames, computers, and some other electronics. Best Buy, Goodwill, and Staples stores also will recycle certain electronics for free.
Find out more about the problems and solutions posed by electronic waste.
Find out more about how to recycle your e-waste.
Find out how and when your town collects e-waste.
Use DEP’s map feature to find where to bring your e-waste.
Cell Phones and Rechargeable Batteries
Recycle old cell phones and rechargeable batteries for free at any cell phone retail location, including more than 300 Call2Recycle drop-off points around the state, or most town waste collection sites.
Maine residents can chose from more than 80 convenient locations to drop off unused paint, which prevents more than 200,000 cans of unused paint from being improperly disposed of in landfills and incinerators each year. This saves millions of dollars for Maine municipalities who no longer have the sole responsibility or manages all of the unused paint. Learn more about paint stewardship.
Redeemable Beverage Containers
Earn 5¢ to 15¢ per container when you recycle your redeemable beverage containers at a bottle redemption facility near you.
Use a reverse vending machine located on-site at a beverage retailer.
Find a beverage redemption center in your area.
Use a self-service kiosk such as the CLYNK system located in 48 Hannaford grocery stores across the state.
Also be sure to check out the "Related Resources" section below for access to other important documents.