Company should match earnings performance with environmental leadership, activists say
Madison, WI -- Dell Computer Corporation announced continued sales, profit, and market share growth for the fourth quarter of its 2002 fiscal year, prompting waste reduction activists to demand environmental leadership from the company. Dell's announcement highlighted the company's unique position as the only computer-systems company to attain year-over-year growth in global unit shipments.
"Dell Computer is clearly the market share leader of PC sales to consumers and to institutions but from the standpoint of environmental performance, the company is a bottom feeder relative to its global competitors," says David Wood, Program Director of GrassRoots Recycling Network (GRRN). "Dell's global profit and sales growth are matched only by the growth of e-waste from discarded computers and other consumer electronics. Dell must use its leadership role to promote responsibility within the consumer electronics industry for the environmental problems it has helped create," continues Wood.
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.
"Our recent Computer Report Card rated Dell as a laggard when compared to a long list of personal computer manufacturers when evaluated on four broad measures on environmental performance," says Ted Smith, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SCTV), which issued the 2001 Computer Report Card on November 27, 2001. "The public is becoming increasingly aware of the hazards posed by computers and other common electronic devices. We are working to transform that growing awareness into consumer pressure on companies like Dell to take responsibility for the life cycle of their products, including take back and end-of-life management," Smith says.
SVTC and GRRN are leading a new 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 and investors, to academics, design professionals, organized labor and students. The Campaign's platform also calls for phasing out the use of hazardous materials, ending waste export, and promoting local economic development.
"Dell Computer is a target of ecopledge.com, a national student environmental campaign, for its failure to take responsibility for discarded computers," says Rebecca O'Malley, Program Advocate with ecopledge.com. "The environment is still a high priority for students across the country. Our students are psyched to join forces with the national Computer TakeBack Campaign in order to increase market pressure on Dell Computer."
"Dell's global sales and market share growth continue despite the fact that, in European and Asian countries, the company is required by law to take end-of-life responsibility for their products, and to significantly reduce the use of hazardous compounds," continues Wood. "Dell operates with a global double-standard. Our campaign's question to Dell and others in the industry is very simple; 'why not here'?"
The 2001 Computer
Report Card, as well as more detailed information about the Computer TakeBack
Campaign, is available on the internet at www.grrn.org or www.svtc.org.