NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - One later winter Tuesday, Christine Datz-Romero patrolled the aisles of an unheated, 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Gowanus crammed with stacks of outdated microscopes, 60-year-old TV sets and a wide array of — Datz-Romero's favorite — rotary phones. A recycling advocate for the last four decades, Datz-Romero admitted her massive building had likely lost, at least for a time, arks worth of treasured electronic artifacts.
"I always call this the black hole because you put something down in this warehouse and it disappears," she said.
Datz-Romero co-founded the Lower East Side Ecology Center in the 1980s and oversaw the opening of the E-Waste Warehouse in 2012 to combat what she calls "the built-in obsolescence" of technology today. The Ecology Center now collects 1 million pounds of electronic waste every year, most of which it recycles.
"The machines will be shredded in a gigantic shredder," Datz-Romero said.
Every week, a tractor trailer transports pallets of un-salvageable or unwanted electronics to a recycling partner upstate.
"And then of course we get these amazing older, vintage machines that we really don't want to feed through the shredder," Datz-Romero said.
And those, now mostly powerless treasures, the E-waste Warehouse rents out for movie or TV shoots, art exhibits and fashion shows.
"First thing I do," E-waste Warehouse re-use tech Troy Hanna explains, "is put on my anti-static wrist guard so I don't fry the motherboard."
Hunched over 2012 MacBook Pro, Hanna tinkers away at the third function of this facility.
"As they say in the Bible," Hanna said, "Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. That's what we do with electronics."
In compliance with all laws, Hanna and his coworkers repair and retrofit those devices worth saving.
"My average would be a LeBron James number," Hanna said.
Hanna estimates he can reincarnate 30 of every 32 or so devices that cross his workbench, saving this tech from an eternity in a landfill from inside this cavernous hall of tangled cables, electronic props and millions of pounds of plastic and metal waiting for its next life.