In passing seven Product Stewardship laws for the most toxic and problematic elements of the waste stream, Maine has made considerable progress towards reducing environmental damage from solid waste. However, there remains much to be done to eliminate threats to Maine’s people and environment from old-fashioned, inefficient solid waste management.
We do not currently have a statewide solution to the problems posed by many remaining universal wastes and household hazardous wastes not currently covered by Product Stewardship laws.
Mainers collectively dispose of approximately 20 million pounds of hazardous waste with their trash every year. Household hazardous waste collection events typically gather substantial quantities of pesticides, bleach, solvents, oil-based paints, paint strippers, chemical cleaning compounds, disinfectants, air fresheners, waste oil, antifreeze and other hazardous household products. Many of these compounds are either flammable, poisonous, reactive, explosive, carcinogenic or some combination of all the above. When handled improperly, these materials can threaten the health and safety of municipal trash handlers, damage sewer systems, contaminate groundwater and drinking water, and cause harm to the environment and public health.
NRCM continues to work to educate Maine people about the problem of household hazardous waste and to ensure that state and local programs have adequate resources to protect the environment and public health.