Corporate Responsibility Group Gives Dell the Thumbs-Up

Corporate Responsibility Group Gives Dell the Thumbs-Up

Computer giant Dell Inc. has been approved as a member of Ceres, a coalition of investors, companies, and public interest groups committed to environmental and social responsibility. In naming Dell, the Ceres board of directors cited the company's recent progress on electronics recycling and its overall commitment to social and environmental improvements.

Dell, the world's largest supplier of personal computers and ranked 25th among Fortune 500 companies, is the first company in the computer industry to join Ceres. The coalition has 65 companies in its network, including nearly a dozen Fortune 500 companies.

Ceres' approval of Dell comes several weeks after the company approved a new product recovery program. With the new program, Dell is the first in the industry to offer free recycling of any Dell-branded products for consumers globally. The new policy supplements Dell's offer of free-with-purchase recycling, which accepts any brand of used computer or printer with the purchase of a new one from Dell. The latter program was launched in 2004. In the company’s most recent Sustainability Report, Dell pledged to triple the amount of product recovered from customers cumulatively by 2009, from volume recovered by the end of 2005.

Dell’s new policy was based on a number of factors, including stakeholder input. In April, Ceres led a meeting between Dell representatives and labor, environmental and investor stakeholders to discuss how Dell could improve its public reporting and improve its environmental and social performance.

"The Ceres meeting provided a springboard for discussions with Dell, resulting in the company committing to take all of their products back for recycling," said Robin Schneider, vice-chair of the national Computer TakeBack Campaign, in praising Dell’s new policy. "Dell has raised the bar for the industry and the challenge is now for other companies to follow their lead."

"Dell’s bold product recycling policy is an important breakthrough in tackling the global-wide problem of electronic waste that clogs our landfills while putting populations at risk," added Ceres President Mindy S. Lubber. "Ceres applauds Dell for moving the industry forward on this important issue and for its strong commitment to social and environmental improvement in the years ahead. Working with investors, environmental groups and other stakeholders, Ceres and Dell are excited about future opportunities to take sustainability deeper into the company and across the rest of the industry."

Dell has instituted various programs to reduce its environmental footprint and improve its social performance. A key driver of this work is its strong commitment to make its operations increasingly transparent, beginning with its first corporate sustainability report in 2004. Dell uses reporting guidelines in the Ceres-created Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the de-facto international standard for reporting on social, environmental and financial performance, in its sustainability reports.

Dell has also launched efforts to increase the energy efficiency of its products and has published a chemical use policy that endorses the precautionary principle and includes a commitment to eliminate the use of all brominated flame retardants and PVCs from product designs by 2009. The company is a founding of the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct (EICC), designed to help drive industry-wide standards for good labor practices in the technology industry supply chain.

Companies that join Ceres must commit to engage with shareholders and other stakeholders on sustainability issues, to report publicly on sustainability performance and to make additional sustainability improvements.