Dell Ramps Up Recycling Efforts
As PC growth increases, consumers and environmental groups demand manufacturers do more to properly dispose of resulting, rising e-waste.
Dell Inc. plans to triple the amount of electronics it can recycle by
2009, the company said in an annual report outlining its environmental
goals and achievements.
The announcement comes as Dell and other computer makers, bowing to demands
from consumers and environmental groups, have become increasingly sensitive
to the safe handling of the toxic brew of materials such as cadmium, mercury
and lead contained in many electronics.
Dell's updated recycling efforts, highlighted in the company's 83-page
Report," were issued Wednesday in Oakland, Calif., at an environmental
business conference. Dell has been issuing such reports since 1998.
In the fiscal year ending Feb. 3, Dell said it recovered more than 70
million pounds of used computers, monitors and printers -- a 72 percent
increase over last year's efforts. Dell officials said the goal is to
recover 210 million pounds by the end of 2009.
"It really fits in with the demand we're seeing from our customers,"
said Jake Player, Dell's senior manager of asset recovery services. "We
do believe we have a responsibility, customers have a responsibility and
government has a responsibility."
A similar report
in March by rival Hewlett-Packard Co. said it had recycled 140 million
pounds of computer hardware and printer cartridges, nearly 17 percent
more than in 2004, and hopes to recycle 1 billion pounds by the end of
Such programs are encouraging, but they're mostly public-relations efforts
that lack specific data, such as how many computers were sold versus how
many were recycled, said Ted Smith, senior strategist with Silicon
Valley Toxics Coalition, an electronics recycling advocacy group in
San Jose, Calif.
"If they're serious about wanting to do this, they would be wanting
to do a whole lot more," he said. "An awful lot of it is just
sort of green smoke and mirrors."
State governments are trying to address the growing amount of so-called
"e-waste." Only about 11 percent of electronics are recycled,
according to the National Safety Council.
In January, Maine became the first state to directly bill electronics
manufacturers for recycling and disposal costs of their products.
A California law requires customers to pay a disposal fee when they buy
a TV or computer monitor, while Maryland imposes registration fees on
computer makers and disburses the proceeds to municipalities for use in
recycling old hardware.
Dell fared poorly in a 2001 report by the Computer TakeBack Campaign,
which monitors the recycling efforts of the world's computer makers, mainly
for its use of prison workers who earned 20 cents to $1.26 per hour to
In 2004, Dell and HP both began programs where customers can have their
old computers and other electronic gadgets recycled for free.