New law enables Auburn recycling firm to expand

Posted Aug. 17, 2011, at 11:07 a.m.
Josh McKay of Auburn disassembles televisions for eWaste Recycling Solutions in Auburn on Friday afternoon. The company plans to add 18 more employees by September after a change in Maine's recycling rules allowed it to expand the business.
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Josh McKay of Auburn disassembles televisions for eWaste Recycling Solutions in Auburn on Friday afternoon. The company plans to add 18 more employees by September after a change in Maine's recycling rules allowed it to expand the business.

AUBURN, Maine — A change to Maine’s recycling rules is letting a local company add 18 new jobs by the end of September.

EWaste Recycling Solutions, a company that breaks down discarded televisions, computers and computer monitors to their component parts and resells them, hopes to add the first two new employees this week.

“We are going to do a little ramp-up here, hiring a couple of people right off, quick,” CEO Rick Dumas said. “Then we plan to do a couple of tests just to make sure that the process we have in place is working. As soon as we verify our process and procedures, we should be able to add 18 people.”

Warehouse jobs at the 100 Bark Mulch Drive headquarters start at $9 per hour with health insurance and other benefits.

Dumas said the company is one of a few in Maine that deconstruct and disassemble monitors and television screens. They’ve been in Auburn since 2008, relocating from Brunswick, and currently have 29 employees.

“We call it ‘electronics demanufacturing,’” Dumas said. “We go to the municipalities and do collection events. Then we disassemble them into their commodity parts.”

A television, for example, contains plastics, metals and other materials that can be sold on the commodities market.

“We actually have a multimillion-dollar machine that grinds the materials up and then separates them using a host of different technologies — eddy currents, electromagnets, optical sorting — and breaks it down into types of plastic and even colors,” he said. “It can separate out the precious metals that can be included and the copper and the various plastic components that can come out as well.”

But the company couldn’t do much with the biggest part of most computer equipment, the monitor. In most cases, Dumas said the company sent computer monitors and TV screens to companies in Canada or Mexico for processing. That’s because the funnel glass on the back of most cathode ray tubes is lead-bearing glass and considered hazardous material.

Recent legislation changed that. LD 981, An Act To Increase Recycling Jobs in Maine and Lower Costs for Maine Businesses Concerning Recycled Electronics, was adopted May 26. It allows the company to disassemble the cathode ray tubes at their Maine location.

“The front panel doesn’t have lead in it,” he said. “We can separate the leaded glass from the nonleaded portion, and also get at all the metals.”

Metals can be recycled and sold, the nonleaded glass can be ground up and reused and the leaded glass is sent to a smelter in New Brunswick, Canada.

“They extract the lead back out of the glass and it’s reused in lead acid batteries and other uses,” he said.

Maine allows homeowners to recycle monitors and TVs free of charge.

“We bill the manufacturers for any costs, so there is no charge to the homeowners,” Dumas said. The new law allows small businesses, schools and nonprofits to drop them off for free as well.

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