Dell is using recycled materials from lots of sources

June 2019—Dell isn’t necesarily the first brand of computer you think of but maybe it should be. They are doing some extraordinary things with recycled materials. They not only use materials from their own products; they’re happy to grab other companies’ waste if they can find a good use for it. Some examples:

Alongside the rare-earth magnets work, Dell is starting to include gold recovered from smartphones and other electronics in one of its notebook-tablet hybrids. The company figures that the amount of gold and silver thrown out with obsolete phones is worth more than $60 million annually.

Given that most of the usual suspects from the tech industry are perpetually looking for ways to cut costs in the manufacturing process, neither of these ideas really surprises me. However, some of the other burgeoning experiments I discussed with Lear demonstrate the sort of creative thinking it will take for real breakthroughs.

Dell is the first tech company, for example, to use carbon black ink made out of emissions and soot captured from diesel generators. The ink is used on approximately 125,000 boxes per month for products shipped in India (where it is sourced). Its partner in this endeavor is Chakr Innovations.  

One of the best representations of what’s possible may actually be slung over your shoulder: The water-resistant coating on some of the company’s new notebook computer carrying cases is made using the plastic layer separated from shatter-resistant automobile windshields. That plastic, theoretically, minimizes the potential that the glass from your laptop will splinter. That’s great from a human safety perspective, but this material is tough to recycle.