The eWaste problem

I work in IT, and there's a special corner of the back room where old computers go to die. It's called the eWaste corner, and it hurts me to walk past it. When a computer is too slow or old and is decommissioned, it's thrown into that pile. You might be picturing beige 90's computers or CRT monitors, but at this point the things getting thrown in there are as new as the Dell Optiplex 3040, a computer with a 6th Gen Intel chip. I could have sworn that 6th gen was like 3 years ago, but holy moly, how times flies.

Somehow 2015 was almost 10 years ago, how the hell is it 2024?

Arrow pointing to the launch date line on an Intel product specification page, with the date being quarter 3 of 2015
"End of Servicing Lifetime" my ass

For reference, machines with 6th Gen look like this:

A Dell Optiplex 3040, a relatively modern looking machine
That's USB 3 on the front! I swear USB 3 was launched like 5 years ago

Now you would think that these could get donated to some noble cause like an underfunded elementary school or something, but it seems that even these are too slow or old for them, apparently. I plan on taking a couple home and doing something with them, maybe more homelabs? The problems begin with power efficiency. These machines aren't exactly known for sipping power. It's tough because I already have a homelab. In fact, mine is based on a far OLDER Dell machine, the Inspiron 560, which used Core 2 processors on Socket 775. It still works well, by the way, hosting this website and plenty of other home services.

Sure maybe I could rescue 2 or 3, but it feels like an animal kill shelter. Eventually the pile will get cleared out and sent to a generic electronics recycler, destined to be melted down and sold for scrap. I cannot physically adopt/rescue enough.

Here's the pile in question:

A pile of Dell Optiplex machines. One of them has a Logitech wireless adapter left in the front panel
Looks like someone forgot their Logitech wireless receiver...

But it's not limited to just computers, either. Plenty of other electronics hit the end of their lives, including a massive pile of Aruba WAPs, all destined for the scrap heap for the simple crime of only supporting up to WiFi 5. They're perfectly functional, just 10 years old, which somehow was 2014, I guess.

A cardboard box containing a pile of Aruba Networks Wireless Access Points

This also hurts to see, maybe I'll get some practice setting up WAPs with these, if I decide to take them. I guess I'll need to get my hands on a PoE switch, of which there are none in the eWaste area.

This isn't just limited to desktop machines and WAPs. Laptops also end up here, though I can more easily understand the decision to put these here. Their useful lifetimes I agree are over, so I feel less bad about their inclusion as eWaste, but it still stings just a bit.

A wider shot showing more of the eWaste pile, this time including the items in both previous images of the pile, as well as a stack of laptops, and a cart holding monitors off to the right.
Those are monitors on the right, too!

Maybe a future post will be on what happens with my rescued machines.