Several Dell folks were surprised and perplexed to see Apple's new "green" MacBook ad since its release last month and we've been watching the discussions in the blogosphere. After chatting with our environmental teams about the topic, we realized that instead of ignoring it, we should have a conversation about the real meaning of being green from the viewpoint of a Fortune 500 company.
Our view is that companies who choose to lead have an obligation to be open and transparent. We have a responsibility to engage in dialogue about the environment, whether we agree or disagree with an individual person or group. It all contributes to the greater good.
What is not good is to skip steps, avoid dialogue and pray that people aren't smart enough to figure it out. That doesn't help any of us and it certainly doesn't further the environmental cause for those of us who care deeply about it.
In our view, here's what we believe companies should consider:
#1 - Be Part of the Conversation - It is important to listen, learn, ask more questions and be willing to admit it when you are wrong. We don't recall Apple joining the conversation about the environment, either via key conferences or the blogosphere or via reporter meetings. In fact, we believe Apple employees are not allowed to blog, as far as we can tell. If you want to make "big claims," you should be willing to tell "big stories" in an open environment and let others critique your efforts. Don't skip this step and go right to ads that may not even be truthful.
#2 - Stretch Goals are Different than Wild Claims - We have repeatedly said we want to be the greenest technology company on the planet. This is our aspiration. It really motivates us inside Dell to chase this goal. It's very different than saying "we have the greenest laptops," which Apple has said. Apple hasn't stated any goals, just made claims, which as far as we can tell, are not accurate. Our Latitude E-series makes energy efficiency, the use of BFR/PVC-free components and the elimination of mercury a priority. They were designed and built with the environment and easy accessibility in mind, arguably more so than the Macbook. In our view, our work is far from over, but we're encouraged by the progress we are making.
#3 - Focus on Actions, Not Ads - we are highly focused on tangible actions, not rhetoric. It was in one of our regular sustainability meetings that Michael challenged us to offer free recycling worldwide for consumers. A big goal and we did it. We hope Apple does the same someday. We challenged ourselves in 2007 to meet a carbon-neutral goal for our operations in 2008 and we did it in August, about five months ahead of schedule. We hope Apple decides to do the same. We challenged ourselves to see how much packaging we could reduce and this led to our recent announcement that we'll eliminate 20 million pounds of laptop and desktop shipping materials. Again, same point. It's why we ask our primary suppliers to disclose GHG emissions data during quarterly business reviews. It's why we have green teams at Dell inside our company continually telling us how we can improve our lighting or flooring or any other aspect of our facilities. And it's why our engineers remain highly focused on ensuring our product line becomes increasingly green across the board. It's become a point of pride for our employees to reach and exceed each goal.
We wish Apple would be more bold in making a difference rather than making ads. If they do both, then fantastic, run all the ads you want. But don't forget what this is all about. And, remember, we're just getting started.
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This is great to see how responsible and reasonable the people of America are.
You wouldnt beleive what is happening in Canada.
For example in British Columbia, we daily melt down 1000's of computers, monitors and laptops without anyone checking if they are still working or not.
According to the people that run the program, not even 1 power cord they have received is reusable, out of the some 100,000 computers they have melted down already. We find that a little hard to beleive. Here is more info, I am really looking for some help to resolve this issue.
I am looking for comments from Dell users and people in BC, Canada on this issue. The BC Government has setup a recycling program, and put it into private hands. Now 1000's of computers and laptops are melted down under the pretense or recycling and being green.
Supposedly not even 1 power cords is reusable, not to mention not even 1 laptop or computer.???
Read more :
January 26, 2009
Minister of the Environment
Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Dear Mr. Barry Penner,
I sincerely appreciate your letter in response to me. Unfortunately the letter does not address the issues I have outlined in a satisfactory manner.
Firstly, you talk about their legislative obligation to “reuse” first prior to recycling, and that it is mandatory to reuse material prior to recycling. I am convinced and 100% certain that is not taking place. I invite you to jointly tour Encorp’s warehouse where thousands of computers are stored, Teck smelter, and a few of the busiest bottle depots, so I can personally show you the useful and working computers and components which are getting melted down unnecessarily. Items such as power cords, printer cords, network cables that are never too old and can always be reused, on top of hundreds of laptops and computers.
I am very disappointed that you didn’t invite me for the tour with you, and that you didn’t visit the Encorp warehouse where the goods are stored prior to being shipped to the 3 recyclers (1 of which is Ecycle, the smallest of the 3). I hereby invite you to come and visit Encorp warehouse, Teck and a couple bottle depots together so I can personally show you the breaches in the legislation.
In regards to the Western Canada Computer Industry Association, they have been greatly discredited for shipping items to China, due to their inability to pay for the work their recyclers do, so they are forced to do the only profitable thing. This is all also due to Encorp’s “monopoly” and their “we own it all“ attitude when it comes to this program. I blame them for material going to China 100% as they are unwilling to even pay us the collection fee that every bottle depot and Salvation Army receives. For example if ERA ships 100 tons per month to Encorp, we get $0. If our next door bottle depot ships the same 100 tons they get $20,000.
This type of behavior and monopolistic practices are forcing companies in our industry to ship material to China where at least they are willing to pay for it, and therefore Encorp has to be held responsible for that. ERA has already shipped over 200 tons to Encorp, more than any bottle depot or collection depot Encorp has setup, and ERA has received $0 for its efforts, and Encorp has even refused to provide services to us, on top of warning our neighborhood bottle depot, that if they share any of the recycling revenues with ERA, they will get shut down.
These are very serious issues that need to be addressed immediately. Encorp cannot be allowed to break its legislative obligations by not reusing material; it cannot be allowed to punish companies that reuse material, while financially rewarding bottle depots and other collection depots that do NOT reuse material.
As you can see this is a serious contradiction of the legislative obligation they have to you, me and every resident of British Columbia.
ERA is attempting to implement a real reuse system within this electronics recycling program, which brings me to the next issue.
You talk about Recycling Council of BC, and ESABC creating a website to promote reuse? Can you honestly tell me that you consider this good enough? Have you seen the website? It has 2 postings; 1 old monitor and 1 old keyboard. I can’t believe that in the entire province there are only 2 reusable items. The Recycling Council also does not allow nonprofit organizations or any computer stores to post their ads on there that they wish to receive these items. The Recycling Council receives huge financial contributions from Encorp and it is my personal opinion and knowledge that they are purposely denying the public of BC and ERA and similar organizations the opportunity to receive these computers.
I have called the Recycle hotline to be told the only place to take my computer is a bottle depot. The Recycling Council receives too much money from Encorp to be entrusted with a task of reuse which goes directly against the best interests of the “Industry led program” and the directors of this “ESABC”
I ask of you, sincerely and with the best intentions in mind, to please meet with me personally to discuss these grave issues that I have outlined above,
Electronic Recycling Association
(604) 215 4483