Q: What is electronics recycling?
A: There are two types of electronics recycling—reuse and end-of-life. Reusable items can be donated to organizations that will put them back in the hands of consumers. But with the speed at which technology advances, many products are obsolete by the time consumers are ready to recycle them. Similarly, items that are no longer in good working condition are generally not accepted by charitable organizations and must be put into end-of-life recycling. Once recycled, these components are disassembled and resold as commodities to manufacturers of new products.
Q: How does the Maine Extended Producer Responsibility Program for Ewaste Recycling work?
A: Consider that in 1980 an American household contained an average of 3 electronic devices and in 2009 that figure multiplied to an average of 25 items (NYT 9/20/09). With more than 300 million units being removed from those households annually, it is no wonder that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that electronic waste is growing 2-3 times faster than any other waste stream. Recognizing the problem had the potential to become an environmental crisis, in 2006 the state of Maine made it illegal to dispose of televisions and computer monitors and created what it termed a “shared responsibility” program, requiring municipalities, recycling businesses, manufacturers and the state partner to provide an effective means for consumers to recycle electronic goods.
The law gives municipalities five options for residents to bring their old electronics to a collection point. From there consolidators provide transport to facilities where the items are disassembled or otherwise prepared to move into commodities markets and resold to manufacturers of new products. Manufacturers are responsible for transport costs and consolidators are responsible for record-keeping to ensure that dismantled components (some of which contain hazardous materials) are accurately and responsibly handled and processed. The state oversees the management of the program.
To learn more about the details of the Maine e-waste recycling program, visit the web page on e-waste of Department of Environmental Protection.
Q: What can I recycle?
A: Computers and peripherals, office equipment and household entertainment systems are generally accepted as electronics waste. Below is a list of items that may be recycled in the Maine program.
Televisions (all sizes)
Printers (and ink cartridges)
Digital picture frames
Q: What is not allowed under the JR Enterprise e-waste recycling program?
A: These items are not included in the Maine ewaste recycling program but are accepted and processed by eWaste Recycling Solutions:
Universal waste cannot be recycled in the Maine ewaste recycling program. This includes items like batteries, certain lamps, fluorescent bulbs, mercury devices, mercury thermostats, motor vehicle mercury switches and polychlorinated biphenyl ballasts. eWaste Recycling Solutions accepts and handles these products.
Household “white” appliances are not recyclable through the Maine ewaste recycling program. If you are unsure whether the items you wish to recycle are electronics, household or universal waste, contact your local transfer station or visit your community’s website for help.
Q: How do consumers recycle electronics waste?
A: In accordance with Maine law, municipalities are required to provide the means for which residents can recycle their old electronics devices. Below are the options that municipalities have to fulfill their responsibility; check with your local officials to find out what is available for you.
- Consumers can deliver directly to DEP-approved consolidators.
- Consumers can deliver directly to their regional solid waste recycling centers.
- On-going collection at a designated transfer station.
- Annual or semi-annual collection at a municipal facility or designated collection location.
- Curbside collection.
- eWaste Recycling Solutions schedules collection events in communities throughout Maine.
Q: What is a collection event?
A: ERS partners with community organizations to hold collection events recycle household electronics. These take place over one or two days at a designated location, usually a local facility or other public site. ERS staff is on hand to receive and transport items to our disassembly plant, saving communities from having to store materials at their own premises.
Q: What is demanufacturing?
A: Components of electronics, like plastic, glass, copper, and other metals can be extracted from end-of-life items and re-used to manufacture new consumer goods. Other components, such as coatings, lead, mercury and cadmium, are hazardous and must be handled with strict care. De-manufacturers are specially licensed to process hazardous materials, dismantling them and reselling them to downstream commodities brokers.