Recycling innovator going to prison

E-waste entrepreneur to spend 15 months in jail 

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a 15 month prison sentence for Eric Lundgren. The 33-year old e-waste innovator is well known for his projects which utilize discarded electronic parts for high-tech purposes, including an electronic car that went further than a Tesla on a single charge. According to a Los Angeles Times report:

He built the first “electronic hybrid recycling” facility in the United States, which turns discarded cellphones and other electronics into functional devices, slowing the stream of harmful chemicals and metals contained in those devices into landfills and the environment. His Chatsworth company, IT Asset Partners, processes more than 41 million pounds of e-waste each year and counts IBM, Motorola and Sprint among its clients.

In the case at hand, Lundgren had purchased “restore CDs”  for less than 5 cents apiece and distributed them to computer refurbishers. The initial ruling against Lundgren valued the discs at $25 apiece, despite that, as the Times described them, “the software they contained could be downloaded free and the discs could only be used on computers that already had a valid Microsoft license.”

Lundgren’s story, which has been widely reported in the media, speaks to the concerns of many on both sides of ongoing manufacturing vs. recycling conflicts.

In the Los Angeles Times, Lundgren said he was at peace with the sentence, but not with the underlying issues:

“I got in the way of their agenda,” Lundgren said, “this profit model that’s way more profitable than I could ever be.”

Lundgren said he wasn’t sure when he would be surrendering. He said prosecutors in Miami told him he could have a couple of weeks to put his financial affairs in order, including plans for his company of more than 100 employees. “But I was told if I got loud in the media, they’d come pick me up,” Lundgren said. “If you want to take my liberty, I’m going to get loud.”

“I am going to prison, and I’ve accepted it,” Lundgren said Monday. “What I’m not OK with is people not understanding why I’m going to prison. Hopefully my story can shine some light on the e-waste epidemic we have in the United States, how wasteful we are. At what point do people stand up and say something? I didn’t say something, I just did it.”

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