Electronic waste piles up for recyclers

Phil Keller a worker with Ewaste of Auburn shrink wraps old TV's in the Bangor Mall parking lot on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Ewaste hauled off two tractor trailers and one smaller truck  full computers, TV's and related electronic waste. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)
Phil Keller a worker with Ewaste of Auburn shrink wraps old TV's in the Bangor Mall parking lot on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Ewaste hauled off two tractor trailers and one smaller truck full computers, TV's and related electronic waste. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)
Posted Nov. 14, 2010, at 9:05 p.m.
Ikeem James a worker with Ewaste of Auburn unloads used computer equipment from a pickup truck in the Bangor Mall parking lot on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Ewaste hauled off two tractor trailers and one smaller truck  full computers, TV's and related electronic waste. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)
Ikeem James a worker with Ewaste of Auburn unloads used computer equipment from a pickup truck in the Bangor Mall parking lot on Saturday, November 13, 2010. Ewaste hauled off two tractor trailers and one smaller truck full computers, TV's and related electronic waste. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)

BANGOR, Maine — For guys like Mike Knox and Shane Plumadore, it’s more than a way to earn some overtime on the weekend.

Saturday’s drop-off at the Bangor Mall parking lot near Sears by eWaste Recycling Solutions collected an estimated two tractor-trailer loads of old and-or broken electronic equipment such as televisions, printers, computers and video monitors.

“We probably do 20 or 30 of these a year all over the state,” said Mike Knox, operations manager for eWaste. “This is our third up here since summer. It’s one of our busier locations.

“We have 26 pallets of stuff per trailer. Tonnagewise, it’s probably 60,000-70,000 pounds of products dropped off in a day.”

Thirteen workers were kept busy from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. collecting everything from boom box portable stereos to big-screen TVs.

“Most of the stuff dropped off is computers, monitors, printers and TVs,” Knox said. “It’s a necessary extra expense and effort, I guess, to do this in order to make sure it doesn’t wind up in landfills or someone’s backyard, especially in a state like ours which is all about the outdoors and environment.”

So why do they do it? The electronics are all “demanufactured” at eWaste’s 10,000-square-foot facility in Auburn and disassembled all the way down to the plastic, glass, and metals that they recycle and sell to other businesses at a profit.

“We pretty much have to pay to get rid of the stuff with lead in it, but the other commodities we get like copper, metal and plastic we make money on by selling,” Knox said.

If it had been raining as it was last weekend, Plumadore might have had something to complain about, but the eWaste warehouse manager not only didn’t mind hauling heavy equipment around, he enjoyed it.

“This is fun to me, being able to get some of this stuff,” he said. “Some of it is pretty old and it’s kind of cool to check it out. Plus it’s better here than being in a ditch or on the side of a road.”

The demanufacturing industry appears to be gaining steam. Knox said his company is considering expansion.

“We’ve been around for four or five years, but we’ve only been demanufacturing for the last five months,” said Knox. “We’re still kind of fine-tuning our demanufacturing operation, especially with computers and separated lead glass from paneled glass on TVs.

“We don’t do as many collection events in the wintertime, so we work on our backlog of collected stuff, and we’ll be working on the further refining of our operations,” Knox said. “We’re also looking into opening up another facility to expand our demanufacturing capabilities.”

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