updated 08:45 am EDT, Fri October 22, 2010
Dell scores higher than Apple in recycling study
Dell provided a surprise today by beating green advocate Apple in a report card for electronics recycling from the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. The Texas PC builder earned the highest grade, B, as it not only took back every product through the mail for free but had a widening network that included Goodwill and Staples. It also had the highest volumes and tried hard even in US states where requirements were loose.
The company also made it a point to encourage donating older systems for reuse and made it clear the company wouldn't export to developing countries where the PCs would end up in scrap heaps. Most of the issues surrounding Dell were over the inability to audit what it promised, since the companies it uses have been kept secret.
Apple's emphasis on recyclable materials hasn't extended to its return programs, the ETC said. Its mailback program wasn't as broad, and it wasn't as thorough in most areas in reporting its effectiveness or which firms it was using to recycle or pass along old computers and devices.
No companies scored an A grade for their programs, but most computer manufacturers save for ASUS, LG and Samsung scored lower than Apple and Dell. General electronics and printer makers usually fared the worst, with Canon, Hitachi, JVC and others getting failing grades. Console makers like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony received D- and D scores.
Takebacks don't represent the full ecosystem, although Dell has scored high elsewhere. Critics including Greenpeace have chastised Dell, however, for relying too heavily on toxic or unrecyclable products where Apple was one of the most active in improving the engineering side of its environmental efforts. Most eco-friendly Dell systems have been incidental or one-off models, such as the Studio Hybrid's bamboo option (pictured here).