Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)is a growing approach to recycling and waste reduction. EPR is based on the assumption that products and packages are an ‘unfunded mandate’which obligates households, local government and businesses to pay for the collection, disposal and clean up of these materials once they are placed in the municipal waste stream. EPR calls for manufacturers to take physical or financial responsibility for their products and packages. In Canada and Europe EPR, or ‘take back’ programs have been successfully implemented for tires, paint, batteries and other products. For more on EPR, see ILSR’s Fact to Act On.
InMay 1997, the state of Maine started considering actions to control mercury emissions and discharges in response to increasing evidence of unhealthy levels of mercury in the Maine environment. After a series of detailed reports which identified sources and recommended specific actions, the state enacted a law in April 2002 titled "An Act to Prevent Mercury Emissions when Recycling and Disposing of Motor Vehicles." [click for full text]. Also, see Maine’s Statutory Definition of Mercury-Added Products and Services [Title 38, Chapter 16-B, §1661] and Maine’s Statutory Definition of Mercury-Added Motor vehicle components [Title 38, Chapter 16-B, §1665.a]
Maine’s landmark ‘take back’ legislation requires automobile manufacturers to pay for the collection and recycling of mercury switches from old cars. The law was challenged by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM)
OnJuly 18, 2003, the state US District Court for the District of Maine issued a recommended decision to grant summary judgement to the state. In a thorough, well written analysis by Judge Kravchuk rejected all of AAM’s constitutional claims and recommended upholding the statute in its entirety. Here is a link to the decision.
The recommendation was affirmed by the US District Court in an opinion issued on February 14, 2004. Here is a link to that decision.
- Full Text of the Maine Act to Prevent Mercury Emissions when Recycling and Disposing of Motor Vehicles – Laws of Maine, Chapter 656, 2002 legislative session.
- Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Mercury page
- Third Annual Report on Mercury Switch Removal from Motor Vehicles in Maine — Presented to the Mercury Products Advisory Committee, May 2006
- Second Annual Report on Mercury Switch Removal from Motor Vehicles — Presented to the Mercury Products Advisory Committee, February 2005
- First Annual Report on Mercury Switch Removal from Motor Vehicles — Presented to the Mercury Products Advisory Committee, January 2004
- See also our section on Mercury Rules in Maine: A Model for States