Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, USA, is one of the world’s largest IT corporations, and is listed at number 41 in the Fortune 500 list. It develops, sells and supports IT products and services: computer hardware makes up a substantial part of its revenue. Dell also sells television sets, cameras, printers, MP3 players and other electronics built and supplied by other manufacturers.
Dell’s innovations in supply chain management and e-commerce have helped establish its position in the market. Dell aspires to be ‘the greenest technology company on the planet’ and has been a leader in corporate and social responsibility (CSR) and particularly environmental initiatives.
Besides proactively being involved in a number of social projects and encouraging its employees to volunteer for charity, it is committed to reducing its global greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2015 from 2008 levels. It has also made commitments to renewable energy and sustainable packaging, and is actively reducing its carbon emissions in its supply chain.
To back this up, Dell has put in place a transparent system of carbon counting and disclosure with an ISO14001 certification, and requires its primary suppliers to report their carbon emissions data quarterly.
Dell’s internal energy-efficiency programmes reportedly save the company more than $3 million annually in energy-cost savings. Smart power management of PCs provides the company’s largest saving, of $1.8 million in energy costs on a network of over 50,000 computers. On recycling, Dell’s aim is to recycle 99% of its own nonhazardous waste by the end of 2011.
As well as reducing its own emissions by improving energy efficiency, the company aims to reduce its external environmental impact by developing and selling energy-efficient products. This will reduce the carbon emissions of its customers too.
Dell has banned e-waste exports, meaning that hazardous materials in its components are dealt with responsibly instead of causing harm elsewhere. Moreover, the company is eliminating hazardous and non-recyclable substances from its products wherever possible, including lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium. It plans to stop using PVC and BFRs completely by the end of 2011.
Dell’s electronics disposition policy exceeds the requirements of the Basel Convention, and the company is supporting a complete ban on these substances by 2011 as part of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. It also provides a free ‘takeback’ disposal service for all of its own branded products worldwide and at any time, and for non-Dell products when a Dell replacement is purchased.
Internally, the company has completed substantial projects in energy efficiency over the past three years, reducing energy consumption by 36m kilowatt per hour and saving $5.8 million per year. Through innovative design, it has also improved energy efficiency of the laptop and desktop computers it sells to its consumers by 25% between 2008 and 2010.
In 2010, 25% of its energy came from renewable sources, including all of the power for its headquarters. Dell is one of the top purchasers of renewable energy in the USA.
Dell is working alongside WalMart and other leading companies in the Sustainability Consortium on a project to label carbon emissions of products. Since emissions occur at various points along its supply chain, this is no trivial task. The completed project will enable consumers to make educated decisions about their own emissions.
Sustainable packaging: bamboo and beyond
Dell drives forward innovative, lightweight, renewable and recyclable packaging solutions for its products. Packaging design has a large role to play in this, and Dell also aims for 40% of its packaging to be recyclable by 2012. Last year Dell introduced bamboo-based cardboard for its products; over 50% of its laptop lines now use this innovative packaging format.