Dell Becomes First Computer-Maker to Offer End-Of-Life Recycling
Dell, Inc (NASDAQ: DELL). yesterday announced that it would start recycling any product with its name on it, becoming the first computer-maker to offer so-called cradle-to-grave recycling for its products. Previously, the company required either a new purchase or payment for recycling. The other major computer manufacturers offer similar incentives, though none offer no-questions-asked cradle-to-grave service. Like many who live in Austin, I once worked for Dell, and am proud of their new outlook, as it certainly differs from their environmental stance while I was an employee.
The move caps Dell's migration from environmental pariah to industry leader. Only a few years ago, the company was shamed (although Dell would not admit to being shamed) into meeting with environmental groups after activists picketed the Consumer Electronics Show in prison garb. The move was intended to highlight the company's reliance on a Chinese partner notorious for using prison labor to dissemble old computers.
E-waste is an often overlooked aspect of the country's fascination with gadgetry. When I was with the company, selling to the SMB segment, it was not uncommon for customers to have closets full of unused computers and monitors. It cost too much to have it hauled away. Even donating computers to charities was difficult, since the charities were too constrained to come pick up the machines. EPA rules prevent those items from being dumped in the trash or left by the curb, so they existed in a sort of limbo. Lead and cadmium in computers and monitors is toxic to the environment. Disposing of them properly takes expertise.
To share a funny story, when I was employed at Dell, I was asked to provide input on a new marketing promotion for the SMB segment. When I suggested offering recycling, I was nearly laughed out of the room. I thought that solving the "closet" problem would give us an entre to selling new computers, plus it would be the right thing to do. It looks now as if the company has come around.