Design for Recyclability

If you have ever upgraded your Dell computer’s memory or hard drive, you probably found it fairly easy to open up the chassis and swap out the parts, even if it was your first do-it-yourself experience.

We make system upgrades easy to make your life easier. But we also do it to achieve two other important benefits for you and our planet. First, we design products for longevity. Our products, parts and components are designed to be upgraded, extending the life of the product — if not for you, then for someone else who might be able to reuse the device.

Second, we design for recyclability, thinking about a product’s entire life cycle so that when it finally does reach the end of its life, it’s easy to disassemble and process. (See here for Dell’s Worldwide Technology Recycling Options).

Beginning with the end in mind

We collaborate with our Asset Resale and Recycling partners to determine what kinds of design features will make product recycling easy. This takes into consideration the type of materials used, how they are put together and what type of labeling we include. For example, the exterior of our XPS 13 Ultrabook™ uses polymer-reinforced carbon fibers, which make the computer lightweight and cool to the touch. But that material had to also conform to EPEAT’s criteria for recyclability, ensuring our recycling partners could return the material to usefulness.

Easy recycling: the key factors

These are some of the techniques we use to make recycling easy for our partners.

Recyclable materials — We use easily recycled materials in our products and we label them so our Asset Resale and Recycling partners can identify and put them toward the best possible reuse. We strive to make our packaging as eco-friendly as possible, using highly renewable, recyclable materials like mushroom and bamboo. We also try to use recycled-content materials in our products whenever possible, which helps further the overall recycling life cycle.

Modularity — The majority of components found inside Dell products are easily removable, with standardized parts. This makes it easier to reuse or recycle them.
Easy recycling: the key factors
Easy disassembly — The less complexity, the better. By designing smarter, we have cut down on the number of screws in our products, and the ones that remain are easier to access and more consistent in type. All parts are easily separable with commonly found tools.

Minimal glues and adhesives — Glues and adhesives can create processing challenges for recyclers, so we have come up with other methods, such as innovative snap fits, to accomplish the same design goals.

Restrictions on paints and coatings — We prefer integral finishes instead of exterior coatings, which can interfere with the recycling process or degrade certain plastics during processing. If paint is the only option, we use paint that is compatible with recycling.