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Maine Ready to Mandate Cell Phone Recycling

By Linda L. Zimmerman

The State of Maine wants to legislate cell phone recycling. Maine’s legislative Natural Resources Committee established a used computer recycling program back in 2004. Rep. Chris Babbidge (D-Kennebunk) submitted a recycling proposal which ended up in a study by the Dept. of Environmental Protection.

A public hearing was scheduled on a bill to require cell phone retailers to accept old phones for reuse, recycling or proper disposal. While the toxins found in cell phones are not a danger to people using them, once discarded they have been linked to health problems. The committee said it will be beneficial to keep these toxins, such as arsenic, lead, zinc and other substances, out of the environment and is hoping to make a dent in the 65,000 tons of cell phones discarded annually.

On March 27, 2006, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a law promoting the recycling of cell phones (LD 1840) and regulating the sale, distribution and use of batteries containing added mercury (LD 1058).  Maine legislation has varying dates for compliance.  These details are listed below:

  1. Effective January 1, 2008 – persons, firms, corporations that sell a cell phone at retail in Maine must accept used cell phones for recycling at no charge to the customer.  Notices must also be posted in a visible place that states the seller accepts used cell phones at no charge.
  2. Effective January 1, 2009 – cell phone service providers need to report the number of phones collected and how they disposed of them to the Main Department of Environmental Protection.

For more information on recycling, contact the Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Remediation & Waste Management for the State of Maine – www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/ewaste/index.htm.

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