Innovative material choices

At Dell, we’re committed to making smarter choices about the materials that go into our products. There are two sides to this commitment: using innovative, sustainable materials and avoiding those that may have harmful effects on the ecosystem – human or otherwise.

These choices are embedded in our Design for Environment approach that keeps the whole lifecycle in mind.

Our comprehensive approach includes a focus on minimizing the amount of material needed, seeking out sustainable sources of material whenever possible, substituting, modifying or eliminating sensitive materials (predicated on the precautionary principle), and designing in ways to make recovery of materials easy at end of life.

These commitments extend across our supply chain and apply globally. We also proactively engage industry partners to change the way materials of concern are used in the industry.

Innovative, sustainable materials approach

Our approach to materials is a reflection of our commitment to designing with circular economy principles. For some time, we’ve used recycled-content materials in our products (from recycled water bottles and CD cases). In late 2014, we implemented the industry’s first certified closed-loop process for manufacturing a computer – taking plastics from the e-waste we recovered and then melting, mixing and molding that into new parts for new products.

Since then we’ve scaled our efforts around both traditional and closed-loop recycled plastics and have a goal to use 100 million pounds of such sustainable materials 2013-2020.

We’ve also added reclaimed carbon fiber – sourced from the scrap of other industries. Rather than heading for landfills, this reclaimed material is used to produce lightweight, cool-to-the-touch materials.

These approaches are complemented by our work with packaging. Dell has long been a leader in finding innovative, sustainable materials to get us closer to our goal of waste-free packaging by 2020. Materials include bamboo, mushrooms and even recycled ocean-bound plastics.

Action on chemicals of concern

If reasonable scientific grounds indicate a substance could pose significant environmental or human health risks – even if the risk lacks full scientific certainty – we will take action to eliminate its use. We have taken this approach since our founding and along the way we have reduced or eliminated materials thought to pose a risk – often years before regulation (see elimination milestones).

We also maintain a materials watch list of materials we are phasing out and others we are assessing for future phase out.

Part of this commitment includes working with others to drive high standards across the industry. We partner with green chemistry advocates like Clean Production Action and ChemSec, and technology solutions groups such as the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), High Density Packaging User Group (HDPUG) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Design for Environment Program to introduce safer, effective solutions.

These commitments extend to our supply chain, and we require all suppliers to sign a Declaration of Conformity. The declaration is modeled after ISO/IEC 17050-1 to ensure all product materials comply with Dell’s environmental policies. We also conduct supplier audits that include a thorough review of how they apply and adhere to our material usage guidelines.

Dell also believes harmonized legislation, such as the EU RoHS Directive and REACH regulations play an important role in promoting industry-wide transitions away from substances of concern.