2B Pounds of Electronics Recovered—And We’re Just Getting Started!

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While more people are buying more electronics, what happens to obsolete technology products when they are replaced or retired? Unfortunately, electronic waste, aka e-waste, is one of the fastest growing parts of the world’s domestic waste stream; a staggering 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide each year but only about 20% is recycled properly.

A Circular Economy Eradicates E-waste

It’s time to change the electronics economy from a linear economy – where products are made, consumed and disposed of – to a circular economy in which products are produced, used and then either reused, refurbished, or disassembled into components that can then be refurbished or reused while truly unusable materials are responsibly recycled. In a circular economy, products are designed from the start to eradicate e-waste by staying in use as long as possible, and by making it convenient and easy to recycle retired electronics.

From the start, Dell Technologies has served as a steward for the environment and our technology products are thoughtfully designed for the entire product – through creative materials and innovative recycling options for our customers. We debuted Asset Resale & Recycling Services for businesses in 1996. In 2004, we launched Dell Reconnect, a consumer recycling partnership with Goodwill®, and in 2014, we began reusing plastics collected from recycled systems to make new products.

Figure 1: What is E-waste? Source: Global E-waste Monitor, 2017

At Dell Technologies, we continually put our technology and expertise to work where they can do the most good for people and our planet, and we’re proud of the strong foundation we’ve built for the future.

By 2018, we recovered 2 billion pounds of used electronics – well ahead of our 2020 Legacy of Good Plan. This is a tremendous number, 2B pounds is the weight of over 76,000 school buses!1 We make recycling extremely easy for consumers and businesses while following strict data-sanitization standards and tracking all e-waste as it is processed through final disposition.

Since 2013, we have used 100 million pounds of sustainable materials in our products. We reached this goal, as part of our 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, through innovative activities such as using recycled plastics from old electronics to create new computers and using reclaimed carbon fiber from the aerospace industry in our mobility products.

We continue to explore ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Through Dell Technologies’ recently unveiled 2030 Progress Made Real goals, we will continue to make a positive impact on the environment. And we have even more environmental-impact goals to take on during the next ten years – all substantial, but none as aspirational as our “moonshot” goals:

By 2030, for every product a customer buys, we will reuse or recycle an equivalent product; 100% of our packaging will be made from recycled or renewable material; and more than half of our product content will be made from recyclable or renewable materials.

Our moonshot goals are a bold next step in our journey to eliminate e-waste, and along with ensuring our products are recyclable, they are the backbone of our circular economy.

Figure 2: The Future of E-waste, source: UNU, 2018; OECD, 2018

So, how do we approach such high targets? By leveraging and scaling recycling initiatives that are already working.

Options for Our Consumer Customers

  • Dell Reconnect: Customers can drop off unwanted electronics – any brand in any condition – at one of over 2,000 participating Goodwill locations, and Dell Technologies will recycle them for free. This partnership provides responsible computer disposal and a receipt for tax purposes while supporting Goodwill’s mission to put people to work.
  • Trade-in & Recycling Program: Consumers can trade in or recycle old electronics – all brands in any condition – for free with Dell Technologies. If the device has monetary value and can be resold, we give the customer a gift card of equivalent value toward their next Dell.com purchase.
  • Return to Dell Mail-Back Recycling Program: Consumers can mail in their used electronics – all brands in any condition – and Dell Technologies will responsibly recycle for free through our partnership with FedEx. Customers simply print a prepaid shipping label, box up their items, and drop them off at a local mailing center or call to schedule a home pick-up.

Options for Our Business Customers

    • Asset Resale & Recycling Services: Businesses can resell, recycle or return to lease any brand of retired electronics in any condition through Dell Technologies. We assess those retired assets for their value to the customer and then return that amount to them. Electronics with no market value are responsibly recycled. For asset resale or lease returns, we ship customer systems to our facilities, process and sanitize them, and then either resell them or return them to the leaser.
    • Free Ink & Toner Recycling: Businesses can mail empty ink and toner cartridges to Dell Technologies, and we will properly recycle them. Customers can pack up to 300 ink cartridges or 20 toner cartridges per box, print mailing labels and ship them to us. Or for larger quantities, we offer bulk recycling with onsite pickup of toner pallets that weigh less than 330 pounds (150kg).
    • Dell Financial Services: Refreshing technology on a regular basis can make a dramatic difference in equipment performance and total cost of ownership. Businesses can integrate our financing solutions with their IT procurement to reduce their environmental impact, update their technology and save money, too. For example, financing two generations of PCs over six years saves 28% over buying one PC and keeping it for six years.2
  • Swap and Trade Storage Incentive Program: This program enables our business customers to easily trade their old storage, data protection, hyper-converged/converged or competitive product for credit toward a new Dell purchase. We simplify the transition for customers by offering specialized migration services, award-winning support, and other incentives. Additionally, we provide free, safe and environmentally responsible disposal of the old equipment.


Currently we estimate that we are recycling or reusing less than 10% of the products we sell and that about 8% of our packaging and less than 5% of our total materials come from recycled or renewable content. We’ve clearly got a ways to go to fulfill our 2030 Goals for Advancing Sustainability targets… but we can’t achieve these ambitious goals on our own. We need support and participation from our customers and partners. We are on a journey and by working together, we can protect our planet for our future generations

To start recycling now visit DellTechnologies.com/Recycle.

[1] A conventional school bus is a Type C bus, which can weigh up to 26,000 pounds.

[2] Financial solutions to enable your PC lifecycle strategy, IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Dell, February 2019.

About the Author: Bob Feiner

Bob Feiner joined Dell Technologies in 1999 and serves as Senior Vice President of Dell EMC's Global Deployment and Field Services business. He leads a global organization of nearly 3,000 team members and over 25,000 contractors who support Dell EMC customers in more than 140 countries. His teams provide services to Dell EMC customers throughout their life cycle including configuration services, installations and deployments, managed services, on-site support, and asset recycling and resale. As the leader of the Global Deployment and Field Services organization, he is responsible for managing a $1 billion business. Bob is also the global co-chair for True Ability. True Ability is Dell’s Employee Resource Group for team members impacted by special needs and/or disabilities. In 2015, Bob was recognized as the Springboard Consulting North America Disability Champion of the Year. His prior Dell EMC experiences include leading various field services teams, managing technical support centers, and building the first of what would become six global service command centers. Prior to Dell, Bob was a management consultant in Ernst & Young’s supply chain management practice. He also held a variety of roles in the energy industry. Bob has a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas–Austin, 1997 and has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane University, 1991.
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