May 1, 2002

Robin Schneider (TCE)

David Wood
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Dell Shareholders Urged to Examine All Aspects of Company's Performance

Groups question environmental policy, responsibility for growing problem of electronic waste

Austin, TX -- Investors, business analysts, students, and environmentalists are putting Dell Computer Corporation's environmental performance and corporate policy under close watch and calling on the company to match its profit and sales performance with industry leadership for the growing problem of discarded electronic products, so-called "e-waste."

"We want Dell Computer to take the same degree of responsibility for used and obsolete personal computers here in the U.S. as the company does in European countries," says Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE). "In Europe, Dell takes back old equipment free of charge from all consumers. European producer responsibility laws require this of the company, ensuring that the products are kept out of landfills and incinerators and their valuable materials are reused or recycled. Our simple question to Dell Computer is 'Why do American consumers and the American environment deserve second-class treatment?'," continues Schneider.

Discarded electronic equipment represents one of the fastest growing waste streams in the industrialized world, as tens of million of personal computers alone become obsolete every year in the United States. Fewer than 10% of these obsolete computers are recycled, and, as documented recently, many of those that are destined for "recycling" are instead shipped to Asia for dismantling under horrific conditions. Consumer electronics contain varying amounts of potentially hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, PVC plastics and brominated flame retardants.

"Our recent report, Dude, Why Won't They Take Back My Old Dell sparked considerable interest among consumers and professional recyclers," says David Wood, Program Director of GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN) and organizing director of the national Computer TakeBack Campaign. "The TakeBack Campaign is targeting Dell because of the company's market leadership, calling on the company to match that leadership with outstanding environmental performance and industry leadership for producer responsibility. Consumers understand this message; in one day the campaign collected in Austin over 1,000 signed postcards to Michael Dell. Product end-of-life take back should be built in at the time of purchase, not simply tacked on when the equipment is discarded and certainly not passed on to local governments and taxpayers," continues Wood.

The Computer TakeBack Campaign is a national effort involving two dozen organizations in fifteen states promoting producer take back of obsolete consumer electronics. The Campaign's platform, available on-line at, promotes phase out of hazardous materials, developing local recycling infrastructure to safely manage discarded electronics, and a ban on export of hazardous e-waste, in addition to manufacturer end-of-life take back. The Campaign is co-coordinated by the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition and GRRN.

In November 2001 the Campaign released its annual Computer Report Card, which evaluated the relative environmental performance of over thirty computer equipment manufacturers on four broad measures. Dell Computer scored a mere 16 out of a possible score of 68, while the industry leaders scored as high as 35. Dell has fared poorly in each of the Computer Report Cards issued since 1999. The 2001 Computer Report Card is available on-line at

On the agenda for Dell's July 2002 annual shareholder meeting is a resolution filed by Calvert Asset Management calling on the company to prepare a report examining the firm's potential liability for e-waste and the feasibility of establishing a take-back program of the sort endorsed by the Campaign. Similar resolutions were filed with other major personal computer manufacturers. At the recent H-P annual meeting the resolution was supported by over 8% of the voting shares. Information about Calvert's environmental advocacy is available on-line at

"Calvert's resolution is focused squarely on Dell's bottom line. Regardless of the likely shareholder vote on this issue, we think Dell's management should support the question and act quickly to minimize the company's e-waste liability," says GRRN's Wood.

Business Ethics magazine recently ranked the Top 100 American Companies on various measures of social and environmental performance. Dell Computer was notably absent from the list, while other computer equipment makers like IBM, HP, Intel, Compaq, Lexmark and more were graded in the Top 100. The full report is available on-line at

"Dell is a major figure in Austin. Texas Campaign for the Environment is working on the national Computer TakeBack Campaign because we think Dell can and should be doing more than it is. We join a growing chorus of voices calling attention to Dell's policies and performance and urge shareholders to look broadly at what makes for a healthy bottom line," says TCE's Schneider.


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