As much as I love technology, I’m also aware that technology is one of humanity’s dirty little secrets.
Oh, we do so love our shiny new toys, and we think to ourselves, “Well, at least it’s not a Hummer. At least I’m not clearcutting. At least no animal products were used in the production of my new iPhone.”
And yet, as the Story of Stuff so clearly illustrates, we’ve fallen so thoroughly for planned obsolescence, and the planned lifespan of electronic products, in particular, has been so drastically reduced, that e-waste is a very real global problem.
(Just think about cellphones for a second. From a profit motive standpoint, the two-year contract was a stroke of brilliance, as it has now become almost standard practice to replace a perfectly good cellphone every two years just because you can do so and get a new phone at a significant discount. Cellphone manufacturers and carriers figured out that the increase in sales volume from such a dynamic would not only compensate for the discounts they offer for upgrades, but would actually stabilize a market with a predictable life cycle.)
Dell-Goodwill Partnership Fuels Record E-Waste Recycling
Dell recycled more than 150 million pounds of electronics globally in fiscal year 2011, the computer giant said today.
This puts the company about two-thirds of the way to its overarching goal of recycling one billion pounds of electronics waste (e-waste) by 2014. The FY 2011 figure was about 16 percent higher than the year before.
The company credits its partnership with Goodwill Industries with helping it to make strides in the amount of end-of-life goods it recovers in North America, including used computers, monitors, printers, scanners and other pieces of equipment. The Dell Reconnect partnership helped Dell collect 95 million pounds of e-waste last year.
I had some personal experience with Goodwill’s commitment to e-recycling about six months ago, when I donated an old iMac computer.. A week after I dropped it off, I had a mild panic attack, thinking I’d left some confidential personal information on the hard drive. So, I called and asked if they still had the computer, and whether or not I could come down there and check it out.
Much to my surprise and relief, I was told that all computers are sent to an e-recycling center in Seattle, and that the hard drives are always wiped clean.
I don’t know if Dell had anything to do with the recycling program at my local Goodwill, but it’s clear that these sustainable practices are taking hold.
Oh, and props to Dell as well for the other sustainability efforts mentioned in the GreenBiz article:
The company recently made headlines when it said it would begin shipping its servers in mushroom-based packaging instead of foam. Mushroom roots are added to cotton seed or wood fiber waste, where it digests the material to form cushions that can protect heavier electronics equipment.
Dell said in late 2010 that it had reduced the energy consumption of its desktop and laptop computers by 25 percent, meeting a goal set two years ago.
Again, we need to celebrate these efforts in a very public way, to let these HUGE companies know that we approve and are grateful and that we will be more likely to remain customers of theirs if they continue in this direction.