Electronics Recycling

Help ME Recycle

Background

Using computers is as much a part of our daily activities as driving a car or using a microwave oven. But, unlike cars or ovens, computers become out of date' at an astounding rate, usually with only three years of use. The problem is that computers have toxic components. A typical processor and monitor contain five to eight pounds of lead and heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and arsenic. Consequently, computers pose a formidable solid waste challenge, not only in terms of sheer numbers, but also in terms of environmental risk.

Shopping Cart with Computer Accessories

What a school or business should know

Disposal of computers is subject to the Maine Hazardous Waste Management Regulations. Throwing old computers into the dumpster with the regular trash is not a legal option unless, through laboratory testing, the computer can be proven to be non hazardous. (Note that laboratory testing would likely be more expensive than the cost of recycling.)

Universal Waste Management Companies (pdf format) can ensure your used electronics are handled and recycled in accordance with all regulatory requirements. Elementary and secondary schools, and businesses with 100 fewer employees can recycle some of their e-waste at no cost through Maine's extended producer responsibility program.

What a homeowner should know

It is illegal to dispose of computer monitors and televisions generated as wastes by households in Maine. Instead, all waste computer monitors and televisions must be recycled. Maine has a system of “shared responsibility” for the recycling of computer monitors and televisions. Maine’s “Shared Responsibility” system requires the consumer, their municipality, and manufacturers to all have a role in making sure computer monitors and televisions get recycled in an environmentally sound way.

Universal Waste Municipal Collection Sites (pdf format) - This is a listing by town of municipal collection sites that accept Universal Waste, including electronic waste. The blue blocks signify that they will take from anyone in the state not just for the residents in their town. Green means we were not able to reach anyone in that municipal office. If anyone finds any errors or changes to these listings, please contact the Hazardous Waste Program staff at 287-2651.

For more information on Maine’s E-Waste Law, contact Carole Cifrino at (207) 485-8160 or (207) 287-2651 or at carole.a.cifrino@maine.gov.

Alternatives to disposal for schools, businesses and homeowners

There are plenty of ways to practice the three "R's" - reduce, reuse or recycle.

Reduce

Reuse

Some computers still have useful life, even if they cannot handle the latest software. Nursing homes, schools, youth centers, municipal offices and charity or non-profit organizations may welcome donations of working older computers.

Recycle

Although there may be a cost involved, recycling options abound, including:

For more information on household or school computer recycling contact:   
Ann Pistell
Maine DEP
17 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0017
207-287-2651 or 592-2215

For more information on business computer recycling contact:
Hazardous Waste Staff
Maine DEP
Augusta Office 207-287-2651
Bangor Office 207-941-4570
Portland Office 207-822-6300