E-waste recycling a hit in Bangor

Posted April 25, 2009, at 6:33 p.m.

The old computer and monitor that Steve Foster brought Saturday to the Bangor Mall parking lot had been sitting on his porch for at least three years. The microwave oven the Orono man dropped off at the e-waste recycling event broke recently.

It took him just a couple of minutes to turn the items over to employees of eWaste Recycling Solutions, an Auburn-based firm that recycles televisions, computers, monitors, printers and other electronic waste.

“I think it’s awesome,” Foster, 47, said of the event as he was leaving. “It’s a good legitimate way to get rid of [e-waste]. Everybody’s got to do their part.”

Mike Doran of Woburn, Mass., the owner of the recycling business, said he and his crew of nine employees — all of whom live in Maine, he was quick to point out — held a similar event in December at the mall. The company Saturday collected about three times the volume it did last year. The e-waste filled six large tractor-trailers. Each one held between 25,000 and 30,000 pounds of recyclables.

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The “hot item” dropped off was televisions, most likely because people are replacing old sets with digital ones in anticipation of the June conversion to digital-only signals.

“What you see here today,” Doran said, “would go into landfills in other states.

He credited the “teeth” in Maine’s e-waste recycling law for his company’s success. The law, enacted in 2006, bans manufacturers that refuse to pay for the cost of recycling their products from selling them in Maine.

The law was aimed at keeping the lead in the cathode ray tubes in pre-plasma computer screens and televisions out of the waste stream. Doran said that CRTs are returned to the manufacturers and reused to make new CRTs that are sold outside the United States. The plastic and metal in e-waste items are broken up, then bundled and sold to firms for recycling, he said.

“We take just about anything with a cord and circuit board,” Doran said. “We can’t take white goods such as washers, dryers, stoves or refrigerators.”

E-Waste Recycling Solutions has pickups scheduled around the state, according to Doran.

On Friday, employees of Eastern Maine Medical Center were able to drop off their e-waste from home at work. Doran’s company collected the same types of materials it took in Saturday at the mall.

“We realize recycling TVs, computers and computer monitors can get expensive if people drop them off at their local transfer station,” Ray John, EMMC Environmental Health and Safety officer, said in a press release issued Thursday. “This is a free and convenient opportunity to do something good for the environment.”

Making it convenient to recycle, Doran said Saturday, is the key to keeping e-waste out of the waste stream.

“If you place the burden on the manufacturer and make recycling convenient, people will do the right thing,” he said.

Doran and his crew plan to return to Bangor in August or September. Information about pickup dates are on the company Web site, www.ewastemaine.com.

jharrison@bangordailynews.net

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