Here’s a interesting but frustrating story from KUOW in Washington State about a possible drawback to the state’s aggressive new e-waste law. Essentially, computers that might otherwise be easily retrofitted and redistributed to people and organizations in need are instead being broken down for salvage and recycling due to a provision of the law that insists that only “fully functional” computers are eligible for reuse.
The story quotes Charles Brennick, who runs Interconnect, a Seattle-based processor of donated computers:
"So if it's like a year–old computer or whatever and the donor's taken out their hard drive, that computer then is no longer functional. Then we'd have to send to state program. Easy fix is just putting in another hard drive. It's a two–minute job. Put in another hard drive and the computer's good again."
Under the new law, however, that computer cannot be refurbished. It must be torn down for parts and recycled.
This goes to show that what is e-waste for some could be a lifeline for others. Sometimes the best way to “recycle” a computer is simply to give it to someone who needs it more than you.