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Navigating Global Recycling Legislation

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A while back, Michael Graham Richard at Treehugger.com asked me to blog about how we deal with environmental regulations that may differ slightly from one area of the world to another. It’s a unique challenge, but it’s one we have to solve to implement a global recycling policy.

There continues to be a good deal of legislative and regulatory activity around the world that attempts to address the challenge of responsible recycling of used IT equipment. We work with government bodies to find efficient recycling solutions for used computers.

At the core, our approach is guided by Dell’s Global Recycling Policy. Basically, Dell believes at the end of a product’s useful life, any consumer should be able to return that product to the manufacturer at no charge—a return should be as convenient as the purchase of a new product.

Governments can help educate consumers, enforce the laws, and offer incentives for better design, collection, and recovery. Governmental fees and separate governmental collection systems are not needed and likely would create inefficiencies.

European Union Recycling Legislation

Many of you might be familiar with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment, or WEEE, directive from Europe. This is a European Union directive which requires EU member states to require manufacturers of electronic equipment, including computers, to be responsible for the collection and recycling of that equipment.

Each country in the EU is implementing the directive in slightly different ways. Dell is of course complying with the directive and with any national law that implements the directive. In many cases, our recycling programs go further than laws require. This page allows you to search for WEEE-related recycling information by country.

U.S. State Legislation

We are also seeing several U.S. states address this challenge through the legislative process and expect that trend to continue in 2007. Dell is working to share the details of our recycling policy with organizations and government officials working to find solutions to electronics recycling.

Many discussions at the U.S. state level involve an “Advanced Recovery Fee”, Dell sees some challenges associated with this approach. Some programs require that the government set and collect a fee on the purchase of a product, create a new bureaucracy and a governmental collection and recovery program, and determine how much to pay collectors and recyclers. Such programs are more complex, more costly, and less efficient.

You can see examples of our worldwide recycling programs at www.dell.com/recycling . The programs implement our policy and provides free recycling of any Dell-branded product for consumers globally, regardless of purchase of new Dell equipment.

In subsequent posts, I can discuss recycling legislation in Asia, and will look for opportunities to provide updates on this topic as new developments occur. You can always keep up with our latest recycling initiatives here: www.dell.com/environment.

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