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 costly conventional scrap recycling - a solution that would exceed environmental regulations and encourage technology reuse.

The program also sustains employment for people with disabilities, paid and volunteer internships for aspiring technology learners, and provides a consistant supply of tested technology donations that are used for a host of social causes and community benefit.  

Meanwhile, technology donors enjoy significant cost savings, regulatory compliance, complete materials accountability, iron clad data security 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 SKILLS' Incs eWaste Alternatives Program, which now receives more than 30,000 lbs per month of electronic materials from donors all over the Northeast US.  More than 30% 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
  • Includes data destruction services at no additional cost
  • Reusable materials are prioritized for use in social causes that strengthen our community
  • Surplus reusable materials are re-marketed.  Proceeds to benefit our non profit missions of increasing technology access and employment for people with disabilities
  • 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...

Typical beneficiaries of EWA reusable technology:

Public Community Libraries - use these computers to provide public Internet Access;

The PCs for MAINE project (Low income families who need computers for school or to learn new job skills);

Community Support Nonprofits - No/Low cost computers, servers, networking, training and professional/volunteer IT consulting that improves social service impact, service quality and sustainability;

Hands on Technical Training - in partnership with Maine's Department of Labor, Vocational Rehabilitation, local high and technical schools - people throughout our community develop technology skills by working with our staff in our recovery and technical groups;

PC MEDIX - an ongoing non-profit fundraiser that provides retail computer sales and repair services to the general public.  Proceeds generated fund the PCs for MAINE project, which reduces participation costs for program participants;

 

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

 

Powered by ITE