Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (April 2, 2003) -- Governor Robert L. Ehrlich announced Board of Public Works approval today of $79,322 to finance statewide projects to recycle electronics and collect mercury thermometers.

“As consumers purchase more electronics to keep pace with the advancements in technology, many are left wondering what to do with their outdated machinery,” Governor Ehrlich said. “This project is part of a comprehensive effort to provide a long-term solution to this problem."

The funding will be used to set up the collection of outdated electronics like computers, monitors and televisions, as well as create mercury thermometer collection and exchange programs across the state.

Collected electronic devices would be sent to recycling facilities where reusable components would be recovered and marketed, a process known as eCycling. Those participating in the exchange programs would be given a mercury-free thermometer for turning in a thermometer containing the volatile substance. Data gathered during the projects would be used to determine whether permanent collection systems should be established for these materials.

Nationally, more than 20 million personal computers became obsolete in 1998. That number is expected to grow to an estimated 315 million by 2004. Additionally, obsolete electronics contain elements such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. If not handled properly, these toxic substances can be released into the environment.

Numerous household and commercial products contain mercury, which is a toxic pollutant that can bio-accumulate in the environment and pose a public health threat if a device containing the substance is broken.

Funding for the projects comes from the Solid Waste Facilities Loan Act administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). MDE and the Maryland Environmental Service will implement the programs in coming months.