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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: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Friday September 24 2021, @03:52AM (5 children)

    by Reziac (2489) on Friday September 24 2021, @03:52AM (#1181004) Homepage

    The problem with the consumer Dells and HPs I've seen is the inadequate power supply... just barely does the job when new, then gets some age on it and can no longer handle the load, so quits. (Some work fine again if you disconnect some component.) Replace the PSU and all is well again. Does make for a steady supply of "new" hardware out of the trash.

    I've got a stack of Optiplex discards that are about six years old, and completely stable. Perfectly good for everyday. Also make a good hackintosh.

    Their dastardly plan won't work on me until the hardware quits beyond all resurrection, and there are no more parts left that can be cannibalized.

    And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
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  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Friday September 24 2021, @11:19PM (2 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Friday September 24 2021, @11:19PM (#1181272)

    One correlated consideration is (may be) that laptops should comparably live forever, since the power supply is wholly external to the device. If/when it dies, the failure should be obvious and easily replaceable, but I'm not sure if that's generally the case.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Reziac on Saturday September 25 2021, @01:55AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Saturday September 25 2021, @01:55AM (#1181296) Homepage

      You'd think, but that's not been my observation... laptops die at an eyeball estimate of 3x more often than desktops. Might just be too many far-smaller parts in a necessarily hotter space. OTOH, I don't think I've ever seen a dead laptop brick. I have some that were random salvage from 20+ years ago and they all still work.

      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25 2021, @02:12AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 25 2021, @02:12AM (#1181298)

      I got a cheap laptop for about $100. It was good for about 4 years. Replacing the faulty power supply was possible, but would cost me around $25 to $35. Instead I got a new laptop that was faster and had more RAM for $67. Open box, good as new.

      I would be willing to replace the power supply and even the battery for more expensive laptops, if possible. Also, the recent adoption of USB-C charging on laptops could make it much easier to get a generic replacement for the power supply.

  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Friday September 24 2021, @11:23PM (1 child)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Friday September 24 2021, @11:23PM (#1181274)

    I think that power supply failures tend to be almost always electrolytic capacitor failure, but I'd need confirmation on that. If that's the case, seems like it should be *really* easy to bring PCs back from the dead and keep them running and happy, particularly with Linux/ChromeOS/hackintosh options.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Reziac on Saturday September 25 2021, @02:08AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Saturday September 25 2021, @02:08AM (#1181297) Homepage

      That would be my guess too, but I dysmangle dead PSUs to extract still-good fans (and have often replaced PSUs' dead fans), and I've rarely seen an =obviously= bad capacitor.... tho the common factor among the dead is very small caps and small or absent heatsinks, whereas the long-lived models have caps the size of your thumb and a whopping big heatsink. Consequently I have a General Rule that no PSU that weighs less than 3 pounds is worth shit.

      I doubt it's coincidental that when I hook 'em to a voltage tester, the cheapies usually demonstrate a wider array of sags and spikes. That's also how I became an Enermax bigot.

      Tho I did finally have an Enermax croak... to be fair, it had been in service over 20 years. (The fans are original, and still work.)

      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.