How Dell Is Working to Resolve the Global e-Waste Dilemma

You Could Plant Magic Beans Every Day

Resolving the e-Waste Dilemma with Asset Resale and Recycling Services

There’s a lot more to Dell than meets the eye.

As in the classic fairy tale, magic beans can look plain but lead to a skyscraper beanstalk and golden treasures. With the world’s largest IT recycling program in the industry, serving 83 countries and territories, we’ve been making environmentally responsible decisions (planting magic beans) and adopting sustainability measures for the past two decades. In 2015 alone, our manufacturing facilities diverted 97 percent of our total waste from landfills.

That’s good news since e-waste, otherwise known as discarded PCs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other electronic devices, continues to grow. At the rate that many technological gadgets are being replaced, approximately every 1.5 years, e-waste could easily reach skyscraper-scale heights. (With today’s recycling programs, it’s not likely, but you get the idea).

Fortunately, much of what we call e-waste isn’t waste at all but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that can gain new life through reuse or recycling. And recycling reduces our carbon footprint on the environment, resulting in less air pollution, water pollution and greenhouse gases, and conserves energy and natural resources.

“The global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 93.5 million tons in 2016.”1

It all begins with our customers

Dell’s VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, Trisa Thompson, explains, “Sixty percent of our customer requests for proposal ask about Dell’s sustainable business principles and products. Many customers want to operate a sustainable business themselves and do business with responsible companies who embed sustainability in everything they do. Like Dell.”

This sustainable strategy is so important that it expands with each passing year. To reinforce our commitment to environmental sustainability, we introduced our 2020 Legacy of Good plan in 2013, which includes 21 goals, the most ambitious of which is our 10x20 Goal: The good that will come from our technology will be 10 times what it takes to create and use it.

According to Michael Dell’s message in our Legacy of Good report, “Our 10x20 Goal is about measuring not only the sustainable and social initiatives Dell can execute, but also the ripple effect of how our technology enables others to benefit the planet.”

Building a Legacy of Good is about providing solutions that give customers the power to do more while minimizing our collective impact on the planet.

What does a sustainable technology company look like?

As a global producer of technology, a local citizen of many communities and a steward of the planet, we not only have a responsibility to recover used electronics and recycle them responsibly but also to build products responsibly.

That means building devices with sustainable materials and renewable energy sources, increasing energy efficiency and using waste-free packaging. At every stage of development, starting with how a product is designed, it’s evaluated to determine how it will impact the environment.

Instead of designing a single eco-friendly product, we consider the following practices when designing all of our products.

Circular economy: Value all materials. Avoid waste when possible.

Smarter material choices: Use safe materials and recycled plastics.

Energy efficiency: Reduce energy intensity.

End of life and reuse: Eliminate glues and adhesives that create processing challenges for recyclers. Develop other methods, such as innovative snap-fits, to meet the same goals.

Environmental standards: Strive to meet tough environmental standards and qualify for reputable third-party ecolabels such as ENERGY STAR, EPEAT, Blue Angel and TCO certifications.

Closed-loop recycled content: Turn plastic from recycled computers into new parts. Use a closed-loop plastics supply chain that recycles and reuses materials repeatedly.

For over 20 years, we’ve been voluntarily reducing and eliminating substances of concern from our products, oftentimes well ahead of environmental regulations.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Efficiencies in manufacturing and operational processes generate less waste from the start, and nonhazardous waste is consistently reused or recycled.

Using recycled materials in products helps reduce our environmental footprint and raw material costs, resulting in more sustainable solutions for you.

Dedicated to global sustainability

Dell’s sustainable measures have been recognized by several organizations.

The U.S. EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge recognizes businesses for their achievements in electronics stewardship:

  • Gold Tier Award (2014, 2015) for advancing the responsible management of used electronics through third-party certified recycling
  • Champion Award (2014, 2015) for going above-and beyond SMM Electronics Challenge requirements by demonstrating the highest level of vision, coalition building and execution of programs and policies related to responsible used electronics management.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries recognizes excellence in a number of areas, such as product design:

The Circulars is an initiative of the Young Global Leaders taskforce supported by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Accenture:

  • 2015 Accenture Award for Circular Economy Pioneer for developing a circular economy, which places a premium on all materials, and aims to remove all waste.

Receiving awards for sustainable measures is always an honor, but continuing to advance new measures is driven not for the recognition but for the good it serves the environment, the public and our customers.

How do you transform and/or retire your assets?

There are a number of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible ways to transform or retire assets that are nearing or have reached end of life. If you’re not sure what to do with your unused or obsolete systems, you might consider our Asset Resale and Recycling (ARR) services.

Convenient recycling options allow for safely disposing of end-of-life systems and reducing your environmental footprint. As one of our IT lifecycle services – Consulting, Deployment, Training, Support – Asset Resale and Recycling offers a safe and efficient solution for systems that are nearing the end of their lifecycle.

If you own your systems, before deciding whether to resell, recycle or repurpose them, an evaluation can determine if they have any residual value. If your systems don’t have any remaining value, you can recycle them responsibly. If they do have some remaining value, you can repurpose them for different functions or resell them to another organization.

An alternative to repurposing or reselling your systems is turning them in for cash or credit through the Value Recovery option. Any remaining system value can be issued to you by check or credit. Earning cash back or credits to apply towards the purchase of products or services not included in your IT budget can make you the hero of your business.

If you lease systems that have reached end of life, we can manage the logistics and process the return to your leasing vendor.

As easy as 1-2-3

1. Data security

Before recycling, reselling or repurposing your systems, extensive measures are taken to protect your data.

Our data cleansing checks and balances help ensure your data is wiped clean.3 An onsite data wipe is performed before systems ever leave your facility and then the hard drive is tested to make sure all data is removed.

If the data wipe is unable to delete all data, the hard drive is destroyed as a final measure to ensure your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

2. Data reporting

After the data wipe, the process is monitored to verify data removal or hard drive destruction and to ensure the recycling process met or exceeded all local regulatory guidelines. (More information about regulatory compliance is described in the Environmental Compliance section below.)

Then you’ll receive a detailed settlement report that reflects the status and outcome of retired systems, specifying asset type, serial number and asset tags, value of each resold system, and number of recycled systems.

Environmental compliance

All systems are recycled according to local regulatory guidelines issued by the U.S. EPA and Europe’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations.

The recycling process is continuously monitored. Any electronic waste is tracked, documented and managed through the entire chain of custody until final disposal.

To protect the environment of developing countries, a strict device export policy is followed. Every effort is made to ensure electronic waste is not exported from developed countries to developing countries either directly or through intermediaries.

Stringent worldwide compliance standards are observed. In many cases, environmental programs and policies exceed legal requirements.

Gartner (Magic Quadrant) rates Dell as a Visionary Leader in Information Technology Asset Disposition (ITAD) and said our “compliance Standards are the toughest in the industry.”

3. Custom services

Flexible services, such as custom asset resale and recycling, are available for nonstandard service or integrated deployments.

Another alternative to reselling, repurposing or turning in systems that have not yet reached end of life is donation. You could donate systems to an educational institution, medical facility, favorite charity or community organization. (When donating systems, the same stringent data removal process for data security is performed.)

Whether a local or international charity, coordinating the delivery of donations can also be arranged.

Donating systems is another opportunity for you to become the hero of your business. Just as Dell has corporate responsibility goals, your business probably does too.

Disposing of your assets responsibly can help your business, whether through tax deductions, fulfilling sustainability requirements or other means. In this way, you help your business reach its corporate responsibility goals while also reducing your environmental footprint.

The bottom line

We all know technology improves the world, but producing new systems and disposing of obsolete ones responsibly makes the world an even better place. It benefits the environment, the bottom line, and the market with cleaner air, land and water; reduced production costs and energy consumption; and lower product prices.

Being environmentally responsible starts with every one of us, one system at a time.

Instead of discarding your outdated, underperforming or obsolete systems, transform or retire them responsibly with Dell. Then you, too, will be planting magic beans that yield treasures for both you and the environment.