[Noisebridge-discuss] E-Waste / Donations discussion

Henner Zeller h.zeller at acm.org
Fri Oct 30 17:41:35 UTC 2015

On 27 October 2015 at 13:37, Zach R <organicunity at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Hey all,
>   So there was some tension in the space today regarding some hardware
> donations I brought over.  After talking to some people I learned that there
> was an E-Waste cleanup effort recently, and that some members donated their
> time to haul stuff away.  I would like to take the opportunity to open this
> topic up for discussion among the community.
> I was told tonight that E-Waste has been a problem at NB, and this was news
> to me.  I was also told the regular collector of E-Waste (the phone number
> on the E-Waste bin by the elevator) does not do pickups anymore.  This also
> surprised me because he did a pickup earlier this summer when I called
> him... Well, I called him again tonight and he is says he is completely okay
> picking up E-waste.  I scheduled a time with him for Wednesday afternoon and
> I will take it upon myself to meetup with him and update via the list what
> is going on there.  He seemed more than happy to haul stuff away when I
> talked with him tonight.
> I would come to the meeting tomorrow night to talk about this more if I
> didn't have a prior engagement.  Tuesday nights are usually my busiest of
> the week.  But I would like to ask these questions to the community:
> 1) How much donations should we allow in the space?  What are the items we
> don't want and who should we turn away?
> 2) How should E-waste coordination for pickups happen?  (I am willing to
> take on a role in this)  What is a "Plan B" if regular E-waste people are
> unavailable?
> 3) How often should E-waste get picked up?
> 4) How should the hackershelves be organized to facilitate keeping the space
> clutter-free? Who decides what will stay and what goes?

I think we should have a group of people that are knowledgeable with
elecctronic stuff come togehter regularly and categorize incoming
donations. The most frustrating situation is, if non-knowledgeable
people end up throwing away things that are precious and very useful,
because somebody didn't know what things were. We had this situation
unfortunately in both reboot/refresh situations that valuable stuff
ended up in EWaste.

The problem is that we get a bulk of stuff and that in the end that
same bulk of stuff ends up being thrown out without anyone having
looked at it in detail.

The group of people gauging donations should enhance the value by
  1) deciding what is really junk and throw it out early
  2) identify good things that
          2.1) can be used such equipment like power supplies,
oscilloscopes or soldering stations
          2.2) used in parts, such as computers and printers that are
generally junk but contain useful things such as (stepper-)motors,
encoders etc.
                 (we might still decide to throw out stuff, if we find
a heatsink and already have 200 of them).
          2.3) somewhat valuable in general, but not necessarily for
Noisebridge, so can be scheduled to be eBay-ed off.
  3) Take items that contain valueable components and extract these
components, then throw away the rest (sample: get power supplies and
heatsinks out of ancient computers, get rid of the case+mainboard)
  4) Label everything (e.g. put it in the elecronic parts system for
easy retrieval).

This way, we keep the amount of stuff that is E-Waste vs. stuff that
is valuable is more shifted towards the valuable stuff as we get rid
of stuff we don't need early. Thus whenever there is a
refres/reboot/EWaste pickup, it is clear what to throw out.

I'd suggest that we have some kind of 'incoming' shelf and the group
meets at a certain time of week and does this job. If it happens
regularly, the load on categorizing is not as bad. I suggest Thursday.

To Answer the questions:
  1) I think we should allow as many donations in the space as long as
the 'incoming' shelf is not full. So it is essentially rate-limited by
the speed  we can go through it. I don't think there can ever be 'too
much donations', if we can able to go through it in time.
  2), 3) EWaste pickups should be nodded off by the volunteers that do
the categorization work and then possibly helping at that day to get
things on a truck. That way we make sure that not accidentally 'good'
stuff gets thrown out.
  4) We should have one somewhat cluttered 'incoming' shelf, but then
try to have organized boxes of things (power supplies, motors, heat
sinks, ...) as the result of the voluneer work.

> In regards to the last one, there are a bunch of vintage oscilloscopes on
> the hackershelves now.  There is also a very large printer on the top, and
> other items I would personally vote to remove.

The oscilloscopes I'd put on the rooster to eBay off (and get some
funds for Noisebridge while preserving the devices who can cherish
them) and the printer to take apart for parts and then get rid of the
rest (_unless_ it is a wax printer, because then it can be used for
PCB manufacturing).

>     I think communicating about these questions with as many people as we
> can will make sure there is enough input on this.  I would hate to see NB
> become a place that refuses donations and is hardware anemic.  We do not
> receive anywhere near the donations we used to back in say, 2012 and
> earlier.  I am able to bring some quality stuff into the space (I brought in
> 5 laptops last week that were all gone without a couple days) and I would
> like to continue supporting NB this way.
>     One of my favorite things to do for the community is to provide
> hardware, and it is also immensely helpful for my classes.  There are
> countless people that have benefited from the donations we receive and the
> hackershelves and donations have proved to be incredible valuable to many,
> many noisebridge people in positive ways.  Let's find a way to keep this
> sustainable and working for everyone.
> Best,
> Zach
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