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Behind the Greenwash – Dell's Environmental Impact

written by: •edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/6/2010

Dell claim to have a commitment to reducing their company's environmental impact but are they actually fullflling this commitment or is it just a lot of greenwash?

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    Like many other computer manufacturers, Dell Inc., is making big claims about how the company is taking great strides to reduce its impact on the environment. On their website they outline their green strategies, which include:

    · Minimizing environmental impact through producing Energy Smart computers

    · Using "preferably" environmentally friendly materials in the production of their computers

    · Offering consumers worldwide free recycling

    · Offering consumers the opportunity to donate working, used computers to benefit non-profit organizations in the local community

    · Reducing company's energy consumption by purchasing a proportion of their electricity from renewable resources

    · Offering the Plant a Tree for Me Program allowing consumers to donate money to offset carbon emissions

    It all looks good on paper but what Dell doesn’t say is what proportion of their electricity comes from sustainable resources. The company also seems to be reluctant to mention what they are doing to reduce their carbon emissions. Could this be because they are not doing anything at all? Tucked away in their website is a page with information about their greenhouse gas emissions. At the bottom of the page is a small graph which shows their carbon dioxide output for the fiscal years 2004 and 2005. In US, Europe, Malaysia and China, (that's every country where they are present except for Brazil), both Dell's energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions have increased significantly. In terms of their waste management strategies, their recycling program did improve from 2004 to 2005. However, their reuse rate declined and their landfill rate actually increased.

    As for the Plant a Tree for Me Program, is it really helping the environment or helping Dell add to their green hype?

    This is another example of how computer manufacturers can be guilty of greenwashing and another reason why we need an independent report illustrating comparable green credentials between companies.






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