Dell: Influencing Change Across Industries
In 2006, Dell unveiled a first-of-its-kind product recovery program, including free recycling of any Dell-branded products for consumers around the world.
Ceres is always looking to open new doors, especially with companies that have enormous potential to drive corporate responsibility across entire industries. A good example is our engagement with computer giant Dell, which faces daunting challenges regarding energy use, toxics, waste disposal and supply chain practices.
Responding to growing consumer concerns about the industry’s environmental impacts, Dell decided several years ago to elevate its leadership on corporate responsibility. The company set specific goals to improve its sustainability practices, but it lacked the necessary outside-party engagement that would lend credibility and expertise to the company’s initiatives. Dell joined Ceres in 2006 to get that outside expertise.
In April 2006, a Ceres-convened group of investors, labor experts and environmentalists met with Dell executives to discuss how the company could improve its environmental and social performance. The group reviewed Dell’s 2006 sustainability report and helped develop the company’s sustainability strategy for the coming year. The meeting included a broad discussion on supply-chain compliance, product recycling and environmental design, as well as the company’s role in fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS in countries where it has a presence.
The Ceres meeting was a defining moment that led Dell to support state and national electronics recycling legislation. Dell has also unveiled a first-of-its-kind product recovery program, including free recycling of any Dell-branded products for consumers around the world. The program has already shattered expectations: Dell recycled 40,000 tons of computer products in 2006, a 72 percent jump over 2005.
In addition to pledging to triple the recovery and recycling of used computer equipment by 2009, the 2006 sustainability report included specific goals for improving supply chain working conditions, product energy efficiency and compliance with hazardous substances mandates.
Ceres is now encouraging Dell to take a leadership role on climate change – an effort that has already resulted in Dell committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2012. The company is also pressing its top suppliers for annual reports on their own greenhouse emissions – information that will affect how much future business Dell will do with the suppliers.