Frequently Asked Questions

Maine's Product Stewardship Law was signed into law in 2006, and was the first law in the US that made manufacturer's responsible for the recycling costs associated with their products at end-of-life.  Several rule changes have been made since then - these changes have expanded the eligible materials list as well as who can benefit from the law.

Basically, the law focuses on the hardest materials to regulate based on WHO is responsible for them.  In Maine, the law is currently limited to Households, and in June of 2011 - it was expanded to include schools, non profits and businesses with under 100 employees.

This law is managed by Maine's Department of Environmental Protection - Solid Waste Division.

Its intent is to provide a free/low cost option for people to recycle their electronics.  Approved recycling services, transfer stations and consolidators can accept electronics from these 'generators' and pass a flat rate per pound cost onto the responsible manufacturer.

Most of these recyclers, transfer stations and consolidators still choose to bill the manufacturer AND pass on a per item fee to the consumer.

eWaste Alternatives is an approved reuse/recycling service that does NOT pass on a fee for eligible materials to its' clients.

More about this great effort here: 

http://www.maine.gov/dep/waste/productstewardship/index.html

 

Yes.

This program was designed as a 'Sustainable Social Enterprise' - or basically a non profit program that would create employment for people with disabilities, recover reusable technology to benefit our community, and create valuable long-term business to business relationships that value 'People, Planet and Profit'

Some electronic materials have a reuse and scrap value - some have no value - and others involve significant costs to process in an enviromentally friendly/compliant manner.

eWaste Alternatives' fee model passes on ONLY the costs needed to provide collection and processing services - our development and management costs are derived from any remaining reuse value, and our real profit is measured through our social mission - employment for people with disabilities, and computers for low income families who need technology to achieve employment or educational goals.

Here's a classic 'end of the day' comparison of how eWaste Alternatives' fees measure up to other compliant reuse/recycling services:

  •  Worst case scenario - no reusable items in a load - eWa fees avg. 30% less than conventional scrap recycling
  • Average reuseables in load - eWa fees are 40% less than conventional reuse & recycling option
  • Highly reusable load - eWa fees are 70% less than conventional asset management service (Redemtech or other)

This comparison uses the three classic conventional service models:

  • Common scrap recycling (most commonly available, but least compliant and un-sustainable) - also most comparable in material outcome (scrap)
  • Reuse & Recycling option - harder to find, better for the environment that scrap recycling, but no asset value consideration given client
  • Asset Management - non-existant in the Northeast USA, would be what everyone would choose for the environmental and cost benefit IF the availability and up-front costs were realistic

The three conventional options listed here do not include the social benefits that come with using eWaste Alternatives.

Our Service Fee Table is available upon request - use the 'Contact' link to learn more.

Yes!

In the interest of cost savings and our environment, we have put as much information as possible on this website, but there are indeed two print documents available that are useful tools for explaining the service to others as well as providing process and program transparency, compliance info and security details.

  • The eWaste Alternatives Tri-Fold Services Brochure
  • The eWaste Alternatives Technology Donor Guide

Just use the 'Contact' link to request your copy.

Yes!  In fact - we prefer clients use it!

Our services agreement is a very mutual document that states all the assurances we make on this website and more.  The best part of our contract is that as most contracts have fee 'lock ins' for the term of the contract, ours allows fee changes (maximum of 20% increase due to market fluctuations) and to date, these changes have historically dropped fees in favor of our clients.

Use the 'Contact' link to contact Chris Martin for more information on our Services Agreement 

We maintain significant Workers Comp ($1M), General Liability ($2.5M) and Automotive insurance policies ($1M).  Certificates of Insurance for specific collection sites are also available upon request.

Copies of our insurance policies are also a standard part of our Contractual Services Agreement. 

Just use the 'Contact' link to call us.  We regularly present the eWaste Alternatives program via phone or in person to prospective clients in a detailed, but brief 40 minute session.

We do prefer this method as the depth of information and very engaging Q&A component enables a well-informed decision for the prospective client.

You are looking for the US DoD 5220.22-M N.I.S.P.O.M. - last revision before transition to N.I.S.T. 800-88, dated January 1995

http://transition.usaid.gov/policy/ads/500/d522022m.pdf

The Shorlist:

  • Waste Type (see DEP waste codes)
  • Item count
  • Weight
  • Date item entered storage
  • Date item left storage for reuse/recycling
  • Name and DEP ID of party that took item for reuse/recycling
  • Certificate of Recycling #

eWa provides all its' client/partners with these logs and other compliance tools be default.

Want to know what the rules and regs are in your state? Here's a short list of State and Federal Regulators as well as links to valuable information.

US/Federal EPA Electronic Waste Regulatory Program info:

http://www.epa.gov/solidwaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/docs/e-wasteregs.pdf

US/Federal EPA E-Cycling Info: 

http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/ecycling/index.htm

US/Federal EPA Regulations and Standards: 

http://www.epa.gov/solidwaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/rules.htm

Maine DEP E-Waste Product Stewardship Information (applies to household generators as well as businesses with under 100 employees): 

http://www.maine.gov/dep/waste/ewaste/index.html

Maine DEP E-Waste Info for businesses:

http://www.maine.gov/dep/waste/recycle/computerrecy.html

New Hampshire E-Waste Info:

http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/waste/swrtas/recycle_electronics.htm

Massachusetts DEP E-Waste Info: 

http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/electron.htm#TOP

Connecticut DEP E-Waste Info: 

http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2714&q=397480&depNav_GID=1645#Business

New York DEC E-Waste Info: 

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/65583.html

Vermont DEC E-Waste Info: 

http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/sections.cfm?Title=10&Chapter=166

If you cannot find the information you are looking for here - use the 'Contact' link to reach Chris Martin.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

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.  

Referred to by State and Federal regulatory agencies as commercial entities who accumulate/generate E-Waste in any quantity 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.*

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.*

The short answer is Yes!
Just follow this link to learn more about our 'Secure Erazer' ...

Not from Wiebetech - so we made our own!
Just follow this link to our training video.

No. We screen our downstream scrap materials processors to ensure that the materials will be processed in licensed North American facilities. Many legitimate processing options exist outside North America, but the difficulty in monitoring the environmental and human safety at these distant sites makes quality assurance tenuous at best - not to mention the many different international environmental standards. To provide the best transparency and materials accountability possible for our donors, we have held to this standard. Most 'recycling services' do not value this standard and allow materials exporting due to the much higher cash returns.  This behavior is common among 'Free Recycling' services who do not have to charge processing fees because they will cash in by selling materials into unregulated countries for the highest dollar.

Our recording process is very thorough and designed not just for our own needs, but with the donor/clients needs as well.

Unlike most recyclers who will provide a rough list of item quantities in vague, generalized terms - we record the item type, manufacturer, serial number and indicate that the item will be reused or destroyed via demanufacturing - we can even record your asset tags if needed.

All of this information is returned to you with a total of the reuse credits and recycling/processing fees.  These reports are generated as tab delimited spreadsheets to simplify data entry for your technical and asset management staff.

Everything donated to eWaste Alternatives is stored at our processing facility in a secured area until receiving.  Our receiving process is much more detailed than others.  Every potentially sensitive device (cell phones, computers, storage arrays, smart network device etc) is screened for private data PRIOR to being tested.  The very first step in receiving is to inspect the device for data storage - in the case of a computer, we look for a hard disk drive.

If such a potentially sensitive device exists, it is removed from the unit and put in a secure container that moves to our data destruction processes.  To this point we have not powered the unit containing the sensitive media.

Our destruction processes are simple and very complete.  Reusable hard drives are attached to a specially modified server and undergo a US Dept. of Defense 5220.22M single pass 'quick' overwrite process.  Upon completion the server provides a report of successful or incomplete data destruction.

Hard drives that do not pass the overwrite process and all other storage devices (simm cards, flash cards, CDs, DVD's and non-reusable hard drives are physically destroyed.  Optical disks are shredded, hard drives are put into a 10 ton shear and simms/flash cards are crushed.  These materials are then sent downstream to processors who will shred the remains for base materials recovery.

Our clients enjoy our process of handling every device individually and during that process we often recover, secure and destroy data that their own IT staff occasionally miss.  Soon, our reporting process will include actual before and after proof of recovered storage devices and their destruction - including photos.

We encourage clients' interested in knowing more about this process to visit the facility and see it for themselves!

Our unusually strong interest in reuse has lead to extraordinary reductions in destructive recycling (also reducing client processing costs).  Our recording process is maticulously detailed so we can analyze exactly how much we do reuse.  We call this analysis a 'Green Report' and copies are provided to the clients whose materials contributed to the results.  One of the most important objective results derived from these reports is a "reuse rate".

Reuse Rate = A percentage representing the amount of reusable materials recovered from all of the materials derived from a particular source (client/donor).  The metrics used for these calculations are factored by unit count (per item) and by mass (total weight).  A per unit reuse rate of 28% means that out of 100 items contributed, 28 were determined as reusable.  Reuse rates by mass get much more detailed since device weights vary a great deal - eg: Although a per unit reuse rate of 28% implies that a little more than 1 in 4 devices were reusable, if the 28 devices were rack mount servers, and the remaining items were laptops and desktop peripherals, the by mass the reuse rate would likely exceed 60% - more than half by weight.

Classic Donor/Client Types and their respective average reuse rates:

Residential/Household Material Donors - average 8 to 14% per unit, 3% by weight;

Class 3 Donors (public schools, municipalities, small retail businesses) - avg 5 to 10% per unit, 8% by weight;

Class 2 Donors (Professional offices, banks, small & medium businesses, colleges) - avg 28% per unit, 39% by weight;

Class 1 Donors (medium and large businesses, government agencies, tech sector) - avg 77% per unit, 64% by weight.

The results of these studies are interesting because International studies have shown average industry reuse rates of 2%.

There are many International standards and terms that define the different recycling services out there, and as more rules are created, their definitions become more clear.  The explanations below explain the basic stereo-types based on how the respective operations work and include some very important facts that all ewaste generators should know before contracting a recycling service. 
There are 3 basic electronics recycling services:
Transporters/Consolidators - these organizations are brokers with a logistics system.  Their model involves the most efficient methods of collecting large volumes of material, accumulating the materials in storage until they have enough volume of each material type to transport to the highest paying processor or exporter.  Consolidated materials tend to change hands multiple times - from broker to broker before it is actually processed via destruction.  Materials handled by consolidators have an estimated reuse rate of less than 2% internationally.  This business model is dependant on minimal handling and documentation costs, and maximizing pickup fees and materials resale value.  Transporters/Consolidators are usually small unstable operations whose environmental standards go up or down with scrap material market values.

  • Pros: Quick on site and typically low fees.

  • Cons: Little to no documentation, unable to guaranty declassification or data destruction, almost certain exporting of materials to processors in poorly regulated states or countries and no after-the-fact accountability or transparency. 

  • Ratings (1=poor, 5=great): Accountability - 1;Dependability/Reputation - 2; Environmental - 2; Fees - 3

Processors - can also be transporters/consolidators.  Processors are a much better option than consolidators because their facility is typically the end of the road for most of the materials they receive.  This provides a higher level of accountability since processing facilities are licensed by state DEP officials, and can be inspected by your staff.  These organizations are more dependant on the publics' opinion of them (reputation) and have far higher environmental standards than consolidators/transporters.

  • Pros - higher operational & management transparency improve (but do not guaranty) materials accountability and data security.

  • Cons - facilities and processing expenses mean higher fees.  Most processors still use a high volume destructive process with no regard or credit to the generator for reuse.  Reuse rate averages for processors is still typically under 10%.

  • Ratings (1=poor, 5=great): Accountability - 3;Dependability/Reputation - 4; Environmental - 3; Fees - 2

Asset Management/Recovery Services - These organizations have all the advantages of a processor and then some.  While most of these organizations have the ability to process material, they do take reusable materials into account - which reduces the fees due by the generator.  Not only is this practice more environmentally friendly because of its focus on reuse, but the accounting systems involved with testing and recording each device results in more definitive data destruction, and detailed reporting back to the generator for use in their accounting/IT systems.

  • Pros - very high environmental practices due to focus on reuse, which reflects well on generators who use these services -especially those with sustainability concerns;

  • Cons - even with reuse discounting/returns factored in, the up front fees usually keep overall costs at par, if not a little higher than the fees paid to a processor.
  • Ratings (1=poor, 5=great): Accountability - 5;Dependability/Reputation - 4; Environmental - 4; Fees - 2

Until the creation of eWaste Alternatives, these services defined the legitimate limits of how electronics were recycled. 
eWaste Alternatives is really a full Asset Management & recovery service with five significant improvements.

  1. The service does not charge handling, testing, recording and data destruction fees to generators - these normally expensive services are included free of charge;
  2. We do not charge for materials that have a real salvage value - such as non-functioning laptop or desktop computers.  The value we recover from these materials helps us pay for the labor to process them - largely people with disabilities;
  3. Electronics (mostly technology) that can be reused is completely reconditioned by professionals and technology students;
  4. Our non profit 501(C)3 status, and your reusable technology donations can in most cases be tax-deductible. 
  5. The end product - completely reconditioned, low cost personal computer systems & components- are sold near market value to the public - and the proceeds generated reduce the cost of systems sold to low income individuals and families who need a quality ultra low cost computer for use toward academic or career skills development goals.

The eWaste Alternatives program is owned and operated by Skills' Inc, a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation. This means that profits do not go as dividends to stockholders, but are instead re-invested in our social mission, which is to provide living and employment supports for people with disabilities.  This constant reinvestment allows the program to sustain itself, develop the service and create more opportunity for those we serve.  
Although I am very partial to our program, here's where I think eWaste Alternatives rates...
Ratings (1=poor, 5=great): Accountability - 4;Dependability/Reputation - 4; Environmental - 5; Fees - 4
Rating abstract - for accountability, large well developed and capitalized asset management firms have it over ewaste alternatives due to their extremely evolved materials tracking abilities.  For dependability & reputation, our program just optained its DEP/EPA licenses in 2008.  Environmentally our utilizes much more material than any other service I've studied - an average of 64% (vs asset management standards of 35%). Our fees are hands down the lowest around because we leverage a great deal of volunteerism and can recover costs through our larger percentage of reuse.  Typically our donors experience a 70% reduction in their IT disposal costs, far more detailed documentation for accountability than they are used to and know that their surplus technology will be used in the best manner possible.

 

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