Dell embraces circular economy with carbon fibre recycling

American computer firm Dell has ramped up its commitment to the circular economy by launching a series of innovative recycling schemes and joining Ellen MacArthur's Circular Economy 100 programme.

The company has this week announced it will begin using reclaimed carbon fibre in its machines, and will expand a succesful plastics recycling program.

For the carbon fibre project, Dell has entered into a new partnership with Middle Eastern plastics firm SABIC, which will supply the computer manufacturer with recycled carbon fibre and scrap raw materials for new Dell products, from “late 2015”.

Carbon fibre is becomingly increasingly popular in computer manufacturing thanks to its lightweight nature, but has been difficult to recycle until now.

Dell estimates this new partnership will prevent 820,000 pounds of carbon fibre from ending up in landfills. The recycled carbon fibre materials have approximately an 11% smaller carbon footprint than the virgin material.

Expanding the loop

The tech firm also announced the expansion its recycled plastics supply chain, to cover 35 products.

Since its launch in January 2014 the closed-loop system has recycled 1.9 million kilograms of plastic. These plastics are used in computer monitors and desktops, with the new plans opening the scheme up to include servers and other products in 2016.

The carbon footprint for these closed-loop products is approximately 11% lower than standard models, with an accompanying cost saving, Dell says.

“The technology industry has a unique responsibility to help shift the world to a circular economy model, and Dell’s long standing investments in sustainable business puts us in a unique position to lead the way,” said Trisa Thompson, vice president and chief responsibility officer at Dell.

“We are always looking for collaborations that bring efficiencies to our business, and help our customers do the same.”

Business leaders

In that vein, the company also this month announced it has joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 program.

As part of its CE100 membership, Dell will work with global business leaders to develop new approaches to how companies manufacture goods, identify new partnership opportunities and contribute best practices that help businesses and society accelerate the shift to a circular economy.

“Dell believes the circular economy will increasingly become a business imperative and that technology plays a critical role in enabling the transition,” said a statement from the company. “Dell hopes to reduce the amount of waste and by-product created from technology manufacturing by reusing materials already in circulation and seeking renewable alternatives where they exist.”

Electronic waste has been described by waste experts as the “Achilles heel of the circular economy“, due to the massive quantities that go unrecycled. The amount of global e-waste reached 41.8 million tonnes in 2014, according to a United Nations University report.

Fellow tech giant Google became a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation just last week.

Brad Allen

Comments (1)

  1. tsuyoshi takedachi says:

    The company I work for is Moriroku Chemicals (MC)tokyo japan,is share holder of Carbon Fibre Recycle Industory Co.LTD (CFR)who does manufacuturing of recycle carbon fibres from the composites such as car parts,aero plan parts.
    CFR is one of top producer of recycles carbon fibres like ELG.UK.
    We Moriroku chemical is original the chemical traders since 350 years background,are very interestred to participate if still have room for us.

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