Computer Re-Use Advocates Applaud New Washington Law

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s enactment of House Bill 1522 amends the Evergreen State’s present e-scrap program to allow collectors registered with the state to make minor repairs to collected non-working computers. The law previously only allowed “fully-functional” computers for re-use.

Any repair work done by collectors using pieces of non-working computers must be done part-for-part and be conducted by the registered collector, at their place of business. “There are limitations [to the law] that are meant to keep collectors in the collector realm, and not become pseudo processors,” says Miles Kuntz, electronic product recycling manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology. “It’s not meant to allow collectors to tear-down old units and rebuild new ones from 19 different computers.”

“The passing of the law comes at a crucial time for us as the need for computers among unemployed and low income has spiked dramatically over the last three months,” says Charles Brennick, director of InterConnection, one of Washington State’s registered collectors and one of the most voluble critics of the law before amended by HB 1522. “The number of low-cost computers we sell to unemployed individuals has tripled in the last two months, and we had been on the brink of running out of computers.”

The law goes into effect July 26, 2009.

“We’re looking forward to working with collectors on this, and we’re hoping it will be a positive change,” continued Kuntz. Any policing of the collectors under the new law will largely be tip-driven and from spot checks as stated in the measure.

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