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posted by martyb on Thursday September 23 2021, @01:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the e-waste-recycling dept.

You might be sitting on a mountain of e-waste that Dell wants to recycle for you:

If you're anything like me, you struggle to let go of your old electronics. Be that a mobile phone, laptop, or even an old graphics card plagued by electromigration and capable of a frame a minute—there's something about the act of disposing of it that feels inherently wasteful. Yet it's no less wasteful of me to keep my long redundant technology stored in a cardboard box at the back of my closet.

Hence when I spotted a tweet from Dell promising to recycle my old electronics— whether manufactured by Dell or not—it caught my attention. Will the company actually take my old tech from me and do something productive with it?

To gather some more information, I reached out to the company. Because it's one thing to recycle your own product, it's a whole other to deal with somebody else's trash, for lack of a better word.

And as I would find out from Page Motes, Dell's head of sustainability, the company doesn't see it that way.

[...] Dell sees that e-waste instead as an opportunity to create closed-loop supply for certain materials.

Plastics are something the company has been recycling for some time now, using 100 million pounds of the stuff to make new parts for Dell systems, but more recently it's also begun leveraging rare earth magnets from old, disused hard drives alongside manufacturer Seagate.

Furthermore, I'm told Dell is now reusing aluminium from the old drives, and this closed-loop aluminium has since found its way into the Optiplex lineup, a range of commercial PCs that probably aren't all that familiar to PC gamers but relies on recycled materials for a large part of its construction. Something it'd be great to see make its way into more discrete PC gaming components, that's for sure.

Dell is first to admit it benefits from the program, and it also hopes that might tempt other companies to follow in its footsteps. Motes explains that it's well-aware this is not something that can be done alone, and that it'll need wider support for recycling programs to really deal with the e-waste generated every year that is, for the most part, not recycled or reused.


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23 2021, @01:58PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23 2021, @01:58PM (#1180731)

    Plastic is worth just about nothing. The real value (and rarity) would lie with metals and magnets, if they can be reused or recycled.

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  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday September 23 2021, @02:11PM (3 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Thursday September 23 2021, @02:11PM (#1180734) Journal

    Case in point: (Plastics were banned first, along with a few other things.)
    China Bans Foreign Waste – But What Will Happen to the World's Recycling? [soylentnews.org]

    Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China%27s_waste_import_ban [wikipedia.org]

    Electronic waste transactions began in the eastern coastal areas of China and enabled local farmers to get rich quickly. For example, in Guiyu, Guangdong Province, there are 150,000 people in the town, and 120,000 people are engaged in the e-waste industry. They handle millions of tons of e-waste every year, and the transaction amount is 75 million US dollars. After more than ten years of development of the garbage dismantling industry, Guiyu has already become a wealthy town. However, the wealth of Guiyu has come at the expense of environmental degradation. According to a research report published in 2010, 81.8% of rural children under the age of 6 have lead poisoning, and the source is likely to be lead ash from chip fragmentation or molten lead solder extracted pollution from gold, copper and other precious metals and semi-precious metals. The gold on the circuit board needs to be separated by highly corrosive acids; after the high corrosive acid is used up, it is often poured into rivers and other open waters and further polluted environment, which is a vicious circle for the ecology.[17] The waste ban policy hopefully improves severe circumstances in China and facilitates the healthy development of people and society.

    On 5 December 2020, China indicated it intends to ban all solid waste imports starting on 1 January 2021.[18]

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by krishnoid on Thursday September 23 2021, @09:56PM (2 children)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Thursday September 23 2021, @09:56PM (#1180889)

      Well, once again Futurama gets it right [youtu.be], sort of [youtu.be].

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by FatPhil on Friday September 24 2021, @08:41AM (1 child)

        by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Friday September 24 2021, @08:41AM (#1181058) Homepage
        I will confess to never having watched an episode of Futurama, but I am familiar with some of the tropes it revolves around. However, those clips were pretty much enough to persuade me that I really ought to watch it all from the beginning!
        --
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by krishnoid on Friday September 24 2021, @10:47PM

          by krishnoid (1156) on Friday September 24 2021, @10:47PM (#1181259)

          Definitely. It'll help welcome you to the world of tomorrow [youtu.be].

          "I always say that 'Futurama' is real, and 'The Simpsons' is fiction." -- Matt Groening

  • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Thursday September 23 2021, @02:22PM (3 children)

    by richtopia (3160) on Thursday September 23 2021, @02:22PM (#1180735) Homepage Journal

    True. Many users of this site probably have collections of 20 year old hardware. The local recycler is willing to take motherboards and hard drives; they can make a profit there. I think they'll take laptops and complete desktops at a lower price per weight, and I suspect they are chucking anything plastic in the landfill.

    At this point I'm no longer hounding my father to junk his old hardware. It appears that rare earth metals are becoming even more desirable, and recycling is improving to make that happen. He won't retire off the old HDD collection, but I estimate the payout is growing faster than inflation.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Dr Spin on Thursday September 23 2021, @06:34PM (1 child)

      by Dr Spin (5239) on Thursday September 23 2021, @06:34PM (#1180798)

      users of this site probably have collections of 20 year old hardware

      I am still using 20 year old hardware (Lenovo T21). 2001 does not seem like that long ago to me.
      My "new" laptop (Lenovo T61) is now 11 years old, and ready to start secondary school. Of course it now has an SSD.

      I would guess several parts of one of my desktops are a lot older - it still has a 3 1/2" floppy drive that actually works, but
      the mobo and H/Ds are only a few years old. Not sure how old my Sparcstation 5 is.

      The new stuff is useless due to not having CD drives and 5 1/2 drive bays for LTO drives - I mean who would go
      without tape backup?

      --
      Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
      • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Friday September 24 2021, @11:15PM

        by krishnoid (1156) on Friday September 24 2021, @11:15PM (#1181271)

        Don't forget the Lenovo (formerly IBM) Thinkpad legacy is one of reliability first and foremost. They were pretty hard to kill at their time.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday September 23 2021, @10:55PM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 23 2021, @10:55PM (#1180913) Homepage Journal

      users of this site probably have collections of 20 year old hardware

      My server was about that old ... until it suffered the true death this summer and got replaced by one that was maybe 10 to 15 years old.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by LabRat on Thursday September 23 2021, @03:06PM (1 child)

    by LabRat (14896) on Thursday September 23 2021, @03:06PM (#1180743)
    I wouldn't say it's completely worthless. The plastic in most e-waste (computers, cell phones) is ABS, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which is recyclable [plasticcollectors.com]. It's an engineering plastic, with additives for specific purposes. Usually, when using recycled plastics in manufacturing, you clean it, grind it to bits, separate the plastic from additives as best you can, and blend with fresh plastic during compounding. If it's for the same purpose, you can reuse the plastic with additives and save money on both, which can be expensive for electronics-grade plastics (ie. flame retardants).

    This is the way engineering plastics need to be recycled: with original purpose in mind.
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23 2021, @04:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23 2021, @04:45PM (#1180771)

      There are even some recycled polymers that are more desirable than their original components for certain applications (waterproof, high temp, etc.). It can be lucrative, but is not for most "disposable" plastics.