Dell Sets Sights On Computer Recycling

Dell has set the aggressive goal to increase recovery of used computer products by 50 percent over the amount collected in Dell’s fiscal year 2004, which ended on Jan. 30.

Information on the goal, and an update on the company’s progress on a number of environmental and social initiatives over the past year, is now available in Dell’s 2004 Sustainability Report. It can be found online at

“We’ve shown that Dell can continue to grow while being environmentally responsible,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell said. “We are determined to address the challenges of raising computer recycling rates globally, and being the first in our industry to set public recovery goals in this report is an important step in that direction.”

In Dell’s fiscal year 2004, the company’s U.S. operations recovered approximately 16 million kilograms (approximately 35 million pounds) of computer products. This number includes:

  • Dell Recycling:  Recycled consumer computer products
  • Asset Recovery Services:  Computer products recovered from businesses, governments, schools and universities for reuse or recycling.
  • Donation:  Computer products donated to U.S. charities through Dell Recycling
  • Recycling Events:  Computer products dropped off at recycling events sponsored or supported by Dell
  • Lease returns:   Computer products returned to Dell for reuse or recycling
  • Retired Dell owned equipment, customer returns and excess spare parts:   Dell owned equipment that is retired, computer products returned within 30 days of purchase that can be refurbished and resold, and a small amount of excess spare parts (this excess is very small as Dell’s build-to-order model allows for very low amounts of inventory).

The first five categories represent collection of used technology for reuse or repair and are approximately 50 percent of the weight volume recovered by Dell in the previous year.

Lease contracts are important tools that help ensure used products are recovered and reused responsibly. Estimated lease return volumes for 2005 will have been set by contracts entered into several years ago. Dell’s effect on raising these rates therefore will be long term.

Dell’s goal for fiscal year 2005 is to increase recovery rates, by weight, from the first four categories, by 50 percent. Dell’s internal campaign to motivate employees in reaching this goal will be called “5-0 in ’05.”

Global reporting is complicated by collection methods employed in some European countries that do not distinguish recovery volumes by product type or manufacturer. Dell’s goal is to develop global reporting methods that will allow the company to track increases in product recovery on a global basis, acknowledging that estimates will be required in some geographies.

“We have a significant challenge ahead of us this year,” commented Pat Nathan, Dell’s Sustainable Business Director. “If we estimate a five year average age of returned product, our recovery rates this year represent less than 10 percent of Dell branded products sold in 2000. Considering our rapid market share gain and relatively recent restructuring of our customer recycling offerings, we’re happy with the direction of the numbers, but we must increase our recovery rates. Given the affordability of our recycling offerings, it is clear we need to increase customer awareness of the value and importance of responsibly retiring used computers.”

Dell has a number of programs to increase customer awareness of recycling and participation in recycling programs. Dell Recycling offers consumers affordable and easy-to-use donation and recycling services. Dell launched a recycling grant program in 2004 that awards grants and training to communities empowering them to organize their own electronics collection events. And the company continues to use its most effective consumer communications channels, the web and catalogues, to raise awareness of Dell’s recycling offer.

Dell’s 2003 environment report published in July 2003 was recently recognized as “Best Environmental Report” by the CERES-ACCA North American Awards program.


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