Dell moving on EU environmental regulations

At its EMEA press product launch event, held in Monaco recently, Dell outlined the steps it is taking to comply with the E.U.’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive ahead of the July 2006 deadline for compliance.

Dell EMEA corporate responsibility manager, Lena Pripp-Kovac, says that the drive to RoHS compliance is creating one of the biggest challenges facing the PC industry this year — the removal of lead from motherboards.

“The lead in the printed circuit board is the cement and glue — if you change that it affects every component on the board, and all of your testing (safety, reliability etc.) needs to be re-evaluated,” she explains. That said, Dell intends to ship some three million lead-free motherboards by the end of Q4 this year.

The company announced two new OptiPlex systems at the press product launch, both of which, it says, take steps toward compliance with the RoHS directive, by featuring lead-free power supplies, motherboards and chassis.

“The OptiPlex GX520 and GX620 underscore Dell’s commitment to directly address real customer needs, be a leader in global environmental standards and support relevant product innovation,” says John Medica, senior vice-president of Dell’s product group. “The BTX chassis family supports Dell HyperCool technology, dual-core processors, lead-free motherboards and components, as well as new security features that help enable customers to protect their investment.”

Dell plans to meet RoHS requirements across the board before the July 2006 deadline. Dell’s Restricted Materials Programme also prohibits other restricted materials, like cadmium and Dell says it already complies with international environmental standards, such as GreenPC and Energy Star.

It has also upped the stakes in its drive to recover and recycle old equipment through its End of Life program. The company says it recovered nearly 30 million kilograms of product during fiscal 2004, and aims to increase this by a further 50 per cent during fiscal 2006.

Dell also focuses on continually improving energy efficiency, eliminating or reducing the use of environmentally sensitive materials, improving recyclability, and reducing the volume of product packaging, the vendor claims. To that end it has set three broad targets:

— Enable the avoidance of 10 million tons of equivalent carbon dioxide emissions by fiscal year 2008, through energy efficiency improvements.

— Avoid the use of 52,000 tons of lead and 33,000 tons of brominated flame retardants by fiscal year 2008, through global compliance with the RoHS directive, and a shift in display product mix towards liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors.

— Avoid the use of 43,000 tons of product packaging and shipping materials by fiscal year 2008, through product size reduction and packaging efficiencies.

To date, Dell claims to have achieved early traction against these targets. All Dell OptiPlex desktops sold globally are now shipped with power management features enabled. The company estimates that it has reduced the CO2 emissions associated with the energy consumption of OptiPlex desktops shipped in the past year by more than 46 per cent.

It also says it avoided shipping approximately 23 million kilograms of lead between 2002 and 2004, as customer preference for LCD versus CRT monitors increased. In addition, it says that it has virtually eliminated the use of halogenated flame retardants in desktop, notebook and server chassis plastic parts. Further, Dell has instituted a media-reduction initiative designed to reduce the number of printed documents and CDs shipped with systems, which, to date, has removed approximately 1,576 tons of materials, Dell claims.

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