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[greenyes] Recycling lead in toll transponders

Foster's Daily Democ
Thursday, December 30, 2004

Maine Turnpike Authority to recycle toll transponders

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) ? The Maine Turnpike Authority plans to begin recycling
soon-to-be obsolete devices used to track drivers¹ toll charges because they
contain enough lead to qualify them as hazardous waste.

The battery-operated transponders contain about 50 times the amount of lead
to qualify for hazardous material. They will be sent to Connecticut for
recycling, according to Stacy Ladner of the state Department of
Environmental Protection.

The turnpike authority¹s switch from its existing electronic toll system to
the multistate E-ZPass system prompted the recycling drive. The old system
will be turned off Feb. 1, and more than 5,000 transponders will become

The E-ZPass units have a completely different design. In most cars, they can
be attached to the windshield, rather than mounted on the dashboard.

The recycling program is tentatively scheduled to begin Feb. 7 and is one of
the latest efforts to cut down on electronic waste in Maine.

Last spring, Gov. John Baldacci signed a law forcing Maine to take some
responsibility for recycling televisions, computers and other electronics.

The Maine Turnpike Authority does not yet have a contract to dispose of the
transponders. Officials hope to reach an agreement with Green Pages Inc.,
which has offices in Kittery and would take the devices to Connecticut.

People who paid for the devices will not be required to recycle them in
order to get back their $15 deposits, said Dan Pardee, an authority
spokesman. But state environmental officials are encouraging all Transpass
customers to participate.

Test results show the devices contain 261 milligrams of lead per liter,
Ladner said. The minimum level for a product to be considered hazardous in
Maine is 5 milligrams of lead per liter.

The turnpike authority is putting the recycling program in place in the
midst of marketing the new E-ZPass system. Postcards were sent to all
current customers, and a television advertisement will debut on Jan. 3,
Paradee said.

So far, the turnpike authority has received applications from about 13,000
customers, about 20 percent of its account holders.

"Obviously, we¹ve got a lot of work to do, and everyone¹s expecting quite a
crush here during the month of January," Paradee said.

© 2004 Geo. J. Foster Company

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