11,000 Signatures Wasn’t Enough to Keep Eric Lundgren Out of Prison

Today, Eric Lundgren turned himself in to the Sheridan Federal Correctional Institution, where he will spend the next fifteen months isolated from society, the internet, and his business. His crime? Helping recyclers restore Windows onto Dell laptops.

Eric is an e-waste recycling pioneer—one man’s trash is literally his treasure. He was one of the first recyclers handling lithium car batteries at scale. By developing new, innovative testing processes, he was able to reuse over 50% of a car’s dead battery cells for new products. To prove the batteries still worked, he built a car out of other people’s trash and set the Guiness world record for the furthest traveled on a single charge: 999.5 miles.

Eric Lundgren in his repaired Tesla
Image source: Joshua Marks, Inhabitat

Eric is a force for good in the world. But for now, that force will be walled off from the world behind razor wire and armed guards.

That’s a shame, and it’s Microsoft’s fault. While the DOJ prosecuted the case, they were aided every step of the way by ‘expert witnesses’ from Microsoft’s anti-trafficking team. Plenty of people have dug into Microsoft’s claims and the weeds of his case, but at this point the details are moot. Eric’s turned himself in and he’s not going anywhere for a good while.

Eric Lundgren and Microsoft comicThat’s a tragedy, and it didn’t need to happen. There are a lot of good people at Microsoft and they make some tremendous products. We love the XBox One and its super-repairable controller. But Eric is just the latest victim—Microsoft has been systematically stymieing your right to fix the things you own. From insidious warranty-void-if-removed stickers to sending lobbyists to fight common-sense right to repair laws, Microsoft has willfully made the e-waste problem worse. And now they’re imprisoning the very guy who was working to clean up their mess.

Nathan Proctor from US Pirg fights for the right to repair
Image Credit: Ricky Osborne

But Eric’s going down fighting. Yesterday, he accompanied Nathan Proctor from the Public Interest Research Group to drop off a petition signed by 11,464 people demanding that Microsoft change their ways.

“By repairing products instead of buying new ones—and helping others do the same—Lundgren is working to change a system that feeds on consumption and fills our country with abandoned electronics.” said Proctor. “More of us need to stand up for the right to repair, and his case is helping spread the word.”

Eric’s in good spirits—and we’ve got a picture to prove it. Let’s make sure his sacrifice means something. 

Eric Lundgren's text to Kyle before he turned himself into prison