Dell Recycles Gold for Motherboards — And Jewelry

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When eWeek said ahead of CES that we were getting “fashion-conscious” with our new XPS 13 laptop, little did they know just how fashion – and environmentally – conscious we really are.

In what BGR called “the most unexpected announcement of CES 2018,” we unveiled a collaboration several years in the making with actress, entrepreneur and activist Nikki Reed to create a jewelry line made from gold recovered from computer motherboards.

Ring from the Nikki Reed Bayou with Love jewelry collaboration with Dell

“I want to shatter a lot off the misconceptions about sustainable materials and this preconceived notion that sustainability and luxury can’t belong in the same sentence,” Reed told Refinery29.

Her company, Bayou with Love, sells apparel and home goods that meet a strict ethical checklist: Everything is local, sustainable, and recycled or upcycled. This now includes The Circular Collection sourced from gold recovered from Dell’s recycling programs. The collection includes 14- and 18-carat gold rings, earrings and cufflinks.

It’s About More Than Jewelry

Something that I think got lost in a lot of the news coverage of this collaboration, however, is that there is more to our gold recycling efforts than beautiful jewelry. Also announced last week was our industry-first pilot to use the same recycled gold from used electronics in new computer motherboards that will ship in our Latitude 5285 2-in-1s starting this spring.

Dell Latitude laptop with recycled gold motherboard

It’s About More Than Technology

As FastCompany noted, gold is the most malleable metal and the second-best conductor of electricity and usually comes from open pit mines, where miners blast rocks with dynamite, drill, crush the ore, and use chemicals to strip out tiny amounts of gold.

But at CES, Darrel Ward, senior vice president of commercial client solutions at Dell, called out that there’s 800 more times gold in one ton of motherboards than there is in one ton of ore mined from the earth. According to a Trucost study, the gold reclamation process created by Dell environmental partner Wistron GreenTech has a 99 percent lower environmental impact than traditionally mined gold.

“If we don’t start this now and we don’t start taking these precious metals out of the landfills and putting them back into the ecosystem, then we’ve all failed,” Ward said on the stage in Las Vegas.

Currently, only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled into other products. As a result, it’s estimated that Americans throw away $60 million in gold and silver every year through unwanted phones alone.

“I think in order to make this more than a blip on the radar, as a lot of these things have been–you know, with sustainable fashion, and conscious consuming–in order to make this more than a trend, we have to come up with new ways to harness people’s attention and really get them to see that this is the only way forward,” Reed said.

It’s About More Than Gold

As part of Dell’s Legacy of Good Program, the company has pledged to recycle 100 million pounds of recycled content into its product portfolio by 2020. The collaboration with Nikki Reed extends from the company’s widespread efforts to find innovative ways to create value from waste.

“Let me tell you what I love about this company. It’s not just about the technology it’s what that technology empowers you to do,” said Ward. “It’s about driving human advancement. There’s a dimension of human advancement and what we do in the product group that’s particularly exciting to me. It really hits home. And that’s social responsibility and sustainability in our products.”

Since 2012, Dell has recycled more than 50 million pounds of post-consumer recycled materials into new products. If you bought an Optiplex system from us in 2008, there were 17 water bottles worth of recycled plastic in that bezel. And if you buy a new Optiplex from us today, plastic from those old 2008 systems is used to create it.

It’s About You

To make this possible, we need you to help support the effort by sending us your old technology – whether it was manufactured by us or not.

In the U.S., you can drop off unwanted and used electronics at a Goodwill participating in the Dell Reconnect program, a free and responsible recycling service partnered with Dell. Businesses can participate through Dell’s Asset Resale and Recycling Services. And, more global options can be found Dell.com.

You can feel good about reducing your personal impact on the environment, while also helping Dell reduce our impact across the value chain, take action against climate change, strive for zero-waste manufacturing and drive sustainability across the business.

And, as Reed’s proud husband put it on his Instagram, your unwanted technology could become a beautiful line of jewelry to last and be passed down to other generations.

Right this second about to watch @nikkireed walk on stage and announce this huge and amazing collaboration with @bayouwithlove & @dell using recycled gold from recycled motherboards to create a beautiful line of jewelry to last and be passed down to other generations. Showing us all that we don’t need to mine for gold in destructive ways when companies like Bayou and Dell reuse and repurpose through innovation, creating a circular economy. This is called leadership in sustainability and I’m so freaking proud of my wife, @bayouwithlove and @dell for the endless mornings, noons and nights of design, phone calls, brainstorming sessions and the hard work. I LOVE this. I’ve seen project this from beginning come to life. Life it is. A sustainable life. Let’s do this. Amazing.

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