Repair, Reuse, Recycle: The Circular Economy in Action

Reducing e-waste starts with repair. Here’s how Dell Technologies is working to extend the life of products and materials.

We all grew up knowing the phrase “reduce, reuse and recycle,” but there wasn’t much discussion about repair. As we are all working to tackle global challenges like climate change, waste, and pollution, the circular economy – reducing waste and emissions and reusing products and materials at their highest value – is critical to help solve for these issues.

This is what our commitment to the circular economy is focused on – making products and materials last as long as possible, exploring all opportunities for reuse before recycling.

Repair is essential to keep products in use longer and out of landfills. The growing conversation around repair with our internal and external stakeholders is an important one and an opportunity to evolve Dell’s leadership, providing additional routes to make repair more accessible and affordable. At Dell Technologies, we have long supported customers’ choice to repair their own device or seek out another convenient repair option. And when making repair choices, it’s also important to consider customer safety and data privacy.

We define repairability as:

    • Intentionally designing products with features that enable easier repair, whether that’s by a Dell technician or by the customer. We recently revealed Concept Luna, a future vision of what circular design could look like where components are immediately accessible, replaceable and reusable. While the design ideas in Concept Luna are ambitious, they are inspired by the work we have been doing in this space for decades. We use snap fits or uniform screws for assembly that can be opened with commonly available tools and use paints and coating for plastics that are compatible with recycling. Our engineers work collaboratively with leading repair and recycling companies, researchers, and standards to learn about the challenges and improve repairability of our products.
    • Providing customers with easy access to the resources, spare parts and support they need should they wish to repair their products themselves. We make it easy to access information online, including manuals and downloads that keep products performing (SW, drivers, BIOS, firmware, OS, security patches). We also publish our parts list online and customers can order those parts to conduct their own repairs.We even created the Dell AR Assistant, an augmented reality app that provides step-by-step part replacement instructions for almost 100 Dell products for many customer-addressable issues.
    • Offering and supporting multiple repair options across global markets that have that safety, quality, data security and privacy built in.

We have been supporting repairability for decades and drive ourselves to make repair safer and easier for our customers in the future. It’s good for consumers from a convenience, financial and data privacy perspective, and good for Dell, improving customer satisfaction and increasing our ability to harvest components for reuse and recycling.

Because designing for repair and designing for reuse and recycling are two sides of the same coin – if a component is covered in adhesive and takes hours to disassemble - it isn’t as easy to recycle or may not be able to be recycled at all, which is a huge barrier to the circular economy.  It’s why we have a goal that by 2030, we will reuse or recycle an equivalent product for everyone sold.

Our secure recycling solutions for consumers and business customers around the world are how we do this. To give two examples: for consumers we offer free prepaid shipping and easy logistics for consumers to mail back their used electronics and printer supplies – any brand, in any condition – to be responsibly recycled, for free. And Dell’s Asset Recovery Services provide commercial customers responsible asset management for retired technology of any brand – handling pickup logistics, data sanitization, resale for value back, and responsible recycling of any brand of owned or leased hardware – plus detailed reporting of each system’s journey from collection to final disposition.

We know we can’t do this alone. Dell is committed to working both within its industry and across industries to drive impactful change. Through innovation and collaboration, we will deliver on our commitment to drastically reduce waste and keep even more circular materials in the economy, shrinking resource use and greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of a net zero future.

For more information on Dell Technologies and the circular economy, click here.

Page Motes

About the Author: Page Motes

Page Motes leads Corporate Sustainability, overseeing Dell Technologies’ strategic vision and goals, as well as stakeholder engagement. This role, and the work of her team, includes deep collaboration with internal business groups to advance sustainability programs with long-term value. Other work includes engaging in third-party partnerships to accelerate initiatives and position the company has a thought leader, as well as foster innovation and engagement within Dell Technologies’ global enterprise. Programs span across the themes of advancing the circular economy, climate change, and deep engagement in the supply chain. ​ Prior to this role, Page spent 10 years as a leader in the Global Ethics & Compliance Office, overseeing and managing Dell Technologies’ ethics strategy and proactive culture of integrity initiatives, including the Code of Conduct, compliance and ethics-related awareness programs and key operational processes for Dell and its global team members. Both roles have been complimented by an additional 15 years in sales and consulting, much within the ethics, compliance, risk and governance space, and Page has lectured at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law and McCombs Business School, as well as the University of Colorado at Boulder Law School and Bentley College. ​ Page lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. She is a member, and former Board member, of the Young Men’s Service League (YMSL) Hill Country Chapter, which engages high school boys to develop a heart for service in their communities. ​