Maine seeks to repeal e-waste laws

Last week, All Green posted on our website that the newly-elected governor of Maine, Paul LePage, recently announced that he wishes to adjust—and in some cases repeal—the state’s e-waste law.

Several ideas were suggested by the proposal. LePage called to abolish the Board of Environmental Protection and replace it with an administrative law judge system. This would eliminate most state regulations, requiring Maine to follow federal regulations instead.

LePage also wants to review and repeal Maine’s product stewardship laws, specifically eliminating the language that requires the manufacturers to be responsible for financially supporting take-back programs. Because no particular law is singled out, it is assumed that this is an attack on all product stewardships laws.

Environmental groups and politicians alike spoke out against LePage’s proposals. Maine State Representative Melissa Walsh Innes said:

“Repealing the law would shut down at least one business, and possibly another one right over the border in New Hampshire. Jobs would be lost. Municipalities would have to pay more to recycle the e-waste that piles up. Clearly some organization outside of Maine is putting extreme pressure on LePage to get rid of these pesky-to-them laws, laws that work for Maine.”

I am concerned that this move would be a giant step back for Maine. As the first state in the nation to introduce this kind of electronics recycling program, Maine established itself as a trendsetter. If the law is repealed, what other states would follow?

Responsible electronics recycling is vital. Electronics contain chemicals that will contaminate our land and water supply if the chemicals are not disposed of properly. One CRT alone can contain as much as eight pounds of lead.

If that’s not incentive enough, look at Guiyu, China, a place where electronics are not recycled responsibly. Water has to be imported because the existing supply is too contaminated to use. Residents have increased levels of cancer, miscarriages, and digestive problems. Maybe it wouldn’t get that bad, but is it really something you want to risk?

Under Maine’s current program, electronics recyclers survive with the income from the electronics manufacturers. If this money is taken away, most recyclers will be forced to charge a fee, shut down, or export their products overseas.

Why change something that works? I doubt the electronics manufacturers are suffering very much from the fees.

What do you think about LePage’s proposal?

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