Last Friday, at the Greener Gadgets conference in New York City, EcoGeek had the chance to sit down with Michael Murphy, Dell’s senior manager of environmental affairs. Mr. Murphy was at the conference to participate in a panel discussion entitled “Measuring Your Hue of Green” – where he (as well as a representative from Intel, among others) talked about how consumer electronic businesses can lead and are already leading the industry in green corporate practice.
Over the last year, Dell has been embarking on various green initiatives, the most prominent of which was their announcement that the company was, officially, 100% carbon neutral. Some critics questioned this title, pointing to the fact that a large part of that “carbon netural” tag came from carbon offsets. When asked to address this, Mr. Murphy pointed out that Dell’s Austin headquarters were entirely run on renewable energy, as were the offices in Oklahoma City. He said that Dell was committed to running on renewable power wherever it was available, and that the offsets are only for those geographies where renewable power is not feasible.
He also made it clear that Dell’s products rightfully deserved to be called green. One of Dell’s big pushes was to build laptops whose displays used LED backlights. LEDs make a laptop more power efficient, and they contain no mercury. More importantly, though, power-sipping LEDs give what all customers want the most – longer battery life.
According to Murphy, the LED move summarizes Dell’s green philosophy: make a better product, and it will naturally be greener. A green computer is not a computer that skimps on performance. It is a computer that is built out of better materials, in a smarter way, will last longer, and will cost less.
Dell has also been taking steps to consider the overall lifetime of the computer. Dell offers the only free consumer recycling and takeback program across the globe, and they also have developed a program called Reconnect with Goodwill Industries. This program not only allows people to donate their old computers rather than throw them away, but also provides jobs for people in the recycling industry. Mr. Murphy pointed out that Dell had become so involved in these recycling programs that they were making changes in the way they designed machines -just so that the recycling could be done more smoothly and efficiently.
Dell is doing a lot. Some may take issue with the term carbon neutrality, or with offset usage in general. But it is clear that Dell is delivering when it comes to leadership. They are not only working to embody green values, but are teaching the lessons of responsibilities to all their partners, at every step in their supply chain. As Mr. Murphy’s put it, Dell is learning a lot by trying to make its own facilities greener, and they see it as their duty to share what they learn with the rest of the industry.
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