Dell has set some pretty aggressive green goals for itself in the past few years, and we're happy to learn that it wasn't just talk.
How Dell Became Carbon Neutral
The big one is that they are now completely carbon neutral when it comes to their energy use, and 5 months ahead of schedule to boot! They even did things in the right order. First, they started with efficiency measures in their operations around the world, then they purchased green power (which can sometimes be limited by local supply, Dane Parker, Dell's director of global environmental health and safety programs, told us on the phone yesterday), and then purchased verified emission reductions and renewable energy certificates for the rest.
Since 2004, the company’s annual investment in green electricity from utility providers, including wind, solar and methane-gas capture, has grown from 12 million kWh to 116 million kWh, an increase of nearly 870 percent. Earlier this year, the company announced that its global headquarters campus is powered by 100 percent green energy.
They also announced today some new investments in wind power in China, the U.S., and India. This adds up to 645 million kWh and the avoidance of more than 400,000 metric tons of CO2e.
Forest & Habitat Conservation
But that's not all. They are also partnering with Conservation International to protect 591,000 acres of threatened tropical forest habitats in Madagascar. This should prevent more than 500,000 tons of CO2 from going into the atmosphere over the next five years.
What Could Still be Improved
Dell has already required its primary suppliers to report CO2 emissions data and it has joined the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Supply Chain Leadership Coalition, and that's good. But we encourage them to stay ahead of the curve and ask more of their suppliers (such as further reduction in the use of certain toxic materials, or investments in green power for their operations, etc). They are independent companies, but Dell has a lot of influence on them.
Dell also has an internal recycling goal of 99% by 2012. They are now at 95%, according to Mr. Parker, and he says that the last 4% will be hard but they are working on it. Good luck!
As for the products themselves, rather than the company's operations, they should push very hard for more e-waste recycling, and for the next generation of electronics to be designed from the start to be disassembled and recycled. Almost everything in an old computer should be able to be re-used to make a new one (in Cradle-to-Cradle speak, that an 'industrial nutrient').
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Dell + The Conservation Fund + Carbonfund.org = Plant A Tree For Me
Computer Recycling World Tour by Dell
More on Dell's Carbon Neutrality Goal
Official Dell Press Release