About Us

The eWaste Alternatives program is extraordinary...

Each state in the US has environmental regulations that treat all surplus/unwanted technology as a 'Universal Waste' sometimes referred to as 'eWaste'. In Maine, these regulations do not make clear allowances for the donation of technology to non-profits or schools, and creates compliance risks that are left to interpretation.

The Information Technology Exchange (ITE), a non profit technology access program realized that these expanding and unclear/ambiguous regulations could damage its efforts to support community nonprofits, low income families and students by forcing prospective technology donors to 'stick to regulatory language', which could result in the destruction of potentially reusable technology via conventional scrap recycling.

In 2006, ITE and SKILLS Inc (another Maine non profit) partnered to create an option far superior to the traditional option of costly and wasteful conventional scrap recycling industry - a solution that would exceed environmental regulations and encourage technology reuse.

The program also sustains employment for people with disabilities and provides a consistant supply of tested technology donations that are used for employment, literacy, educational and a host of other social causes.  

Meanwhile, the companies who have us recycle their electronics experience significant improvements in cost, security, compliance, and positive public relations for their close work with and support of this unique and powerful idea.

...these partnerships are the epitome of a sustainable social cause between the commercial and non profit sector.

This work has resulted in the creation of the eWaste Alternatives Program, which now receives more than 600,000 pounds of 'waste electronics' from businesses throughout Northern New England - over 24% of these materials are recovered for reuse.

 

EWA is not comparable to a conventional recycling service (see below) or even an asset recovery program (see below) - it is a unique combination of the best these services have to offer and much more...

  • Far less expensive than any other service that meets regulatory requirements
  • Primary directive to reuse materials prior to considering recycling (destruction for scrap) raises the environmental bar
  • Actual management of individual devices and thorough documentation means true materials accountability
  • An intense focus on data security and destruction 
  • Unusually high waste diversion rates through beneficial community reuse benefit
  • Reusable materials not useful in social programs are re-marketed to reduce operating costs, which in turn reduces the cost of the service
  • Significant positive public relations opportunity through proven sustainable business to community partnership.

 

How reusable technology can make a real difference:

Technology recovered by this program are reused in ways that maximize social value first.  Computers are completely reconditioned, rebuilt, reloaded with operating systems and licensing.  They are then made available through special channels at a low cost to people who need an alternative to the mainstream expensive low service quality big box store option for a variety of reasons...

Learn more about where tecnology we recover goes - visit www.pcsformaine.org or www.facebook.com/itec3maine

Not with the program yet?  Get Started!

DEFINITIONS

E-Waste - Electronic Waste: Refers to unwanted or surplus electronic devices; Also referred to as 'Universal Hazardous Waste' by regulatory agencies.  Definitions vary from state to state but largely most electronic devices that are not new in original packaging, are unwanted, in storage (not in use) or considered obsolete or surplus are classified as Universal Electronic Hazardous Wastes and must be managed using practices mandated by state and federal guidelines.*

Generator - Referred to by State and Federal regulatory agencies as commercial entities who accumulate/generate E-Waste in any quantity(see above-we refer to as 'Donors') are classified as Generators (in Maine specifically - Universal Electronic Waste Generators).  Generators can fall in one of two categories - Large Volume Generators (generators of more than 2000 lbs of surplus electronics per year*) and Small Volume Generators (those who generate less than large generators).  Entities in the large category are required to register the facility where these materials are stored with the E.P.A. and must meet specific materials documentation, reporting and storage requirements.*

The "3 R's" Rule - best practices of solid waste management and environmental stewardship: Stands for "Reduce" consumption, "Reuse" until no longer useful and lastly "Recycle" what cannot be reused - each step to be considered in order to minimize or delay materials entering the waste stream.**

Reduce – First step of the “3 R’s” Rule - reduce consumption, which in turn minimizes the volume of what will eventually become waste.**

Reuse – Second step of the “3 R’s” Rule - reusing materials for as long as is practical.  With regard to electronics -this usually requires an investment of labor and parts for reconditioning and redistribution of goods.  Reuse extends the lifespan of these materials and greatly "Reduces" consumption of new manufactured goods.**

Recycling - Last step of the “3 R’s” Rule - and is supposed to be the last resort when an items' reuse in its original intended purpose is no longer an option.  Recycling processes destroy materials for scrap materials which are sold to processing facilities who in turn add new material to the reclaimed and then sell the material to new product manufacturers.  

Recycler – In the truest sense, this is an organization with facilities that accumulate and de-manufacture materials into their base materials to be sold to processors to use in new goods manufacturing.  In Maine - EWA is the only licensed electronics de-manufacturer, therefore all other 'recycling services' are 'Consolidating' materials in Maine to eventually transport them to another state for processing.

Consolidator – Often thought of as recyclers (incorrectly), these organizations only collect and transport materials to Recyclers but do not actually process the materials (scrap brokers). Data security and materials accountability are very poor with consolidators.

Materials Accountability – One of the largest problems facing the industry, this term refers to the tracking of materials throughout their entire lifespan (from initial manufacture through its use - to reduction to commodity via de-manufacture).  True accountability requires per-item documentation and disposition records to the very end, when assemblies are finally broken down into clean commodities and are no longer considered unclean hazardous wastes.

 

*These terms and standards vary from state to state. EWA in its effort to educate makes Maine's D.E.P. Universal Hazardous Waste Handbook available for $3.70 S/H.  This and other state regulatory agency information and helpful resources are available in the FAQs & Links area of this website.

**The "Three R's" rule according to the US E.P.A - visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/reduce.htm

***Materials Accountability and what happens when there is no accountability according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) - visit http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081166t.pdf

 

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