March 19, 2002

Rebecca O'Malley (
213-251-3690 x302

David Wood
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Dude, Why Won't They Take Back My Dell?

New Report from Environmentalists and Waste Reduction Activists Challenges Dell To Take Its Share of Responsibility for Country's Growing E-Waste Problems

Los Angelese, CA -- Los Angeles: Environmentalists and waste reduction advocates today released a report which discusses the growing problem of electronic waste in the United States and calls on leading PC manufacturer Dell Computer to make a greater contribution to solving of problem by providing a take back program for its individual US customers which assures environmentally superior collection and recycling for each computer system at the end its useful life.

"The issue of electronic waste is hitting a crisis point in this country," said Rebecca O'Malley, program advocate of "The current number of obsolete computers in the US could cover the city of Los Angeles with a mountain 16 miles high; yet computer monitors and other components contain so much lead and other toxic materials that the average consumer cannot dispose of them safely and many states are banning them from landfills. In the absence of a plan for dealing with this mess, much of our electronic waste is ending up in foreign countries where it is disassembled under unsafe conditions and creates tremendous health and environmental problems. This country needs to come up with a better solution and we believe that the companies producing these products, especially market leaders such as Dell, must play a leading role by offering individual US consumers a safe, cost effective method for disposing of their computer products."

Discarded electronic equipment, so-called e-waste, is among the fastest growing waste streams in the industrialized world, owing to growing sales and rapid obsolescence of these products. Personal computers pose significant environmental and human health threats if improperly disposed. These products contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and plastics treated with dioxin-like compounds, to name only a few of the potential hazards.

In response, some American PC manufacturers, including IBM and Hewlett-Packard, have come up with programs which allow individual consumers to return their computers and computer components to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer then assumes responsibility for disposing of the item in an environmentally sound manner. Dell offers similar programs to its US business customers and to its individual customers in Europe, but not in the United States. The company offers auction, trade-up and donation services to its US customers who may want to get rid of a computer, but none of these programs actually addresses the issue of where the system will ultimately rest once it can no longer be used.

"Dell Computer has an improper double standard on this issue," says David Wood, Program Director of GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN). "If Dell manages to offer environmentally-sound take-back programs in so many other countries, and yet still makes sufficient profit to maintain its position as a market leader year after year, then it seems difficult to believe that the company could not assume similar responsibility for its share of the U.S. electronic waste problem while still achieving outstanding financial results," continued Wood.

Dell Computer Corporation has had continued sales, profit, and market share growth for the fourth quarter of its 2002 fiscal year, with earnings outperforming expectations for that quarter. It has also attained year-over-year growth in global unit shipments and is a continual market share leader in PC sales to individuals and institutions. Calendar 2001 was the first full year in which Dell led the global computer-systems industry, with nearly 14-percent market share. In the U.S., Dell's full-year share exceeded 25 percent, up almost six points from 2000. It is precisely this success, however, which has caused activists to question suggestions by the company that it could not provide for US consumers the same product end-of-life service that it provides in other countries. Dell's eCycle program in Europe, for example, collects equipment from consumers and then resells, refurbishes, recycles or otherwise disposes of it in an environmentally sound manner. and GRRN are both participants in the national Computer TakeBack Campaign designed to promote producer responsibility in the personal computer and consumer electronics industries. The Campaign's coalition includes representatives from environmental organizations, local governments, economists, investors, academics, design professionals, organized labor and students.

The report, "Dude, why won't they take back my old Dell?" as well as more detailed information about the Computer TakeBack Campaign, are available on the internet at and


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