Dell became the first major electronics manufacturer this morning to ban the export of electronic waste to developing countries. It's a practice that often leads to supposedly recycled e-waste being smashed, burned, and taken apart by hand—exposing workers to toxins in the process. The company also expanded its definition of e-waste to include all non-working parts and devices regardless of composition.
As a result of its new stance, Dell's e-waste policy exceeds the requirements of the Basel Convention, which bans e-waste exports based on material or chemical composition. That's a big deal for e-waste recycling advocates. According to Barbara Kyle, the National Coordinator of the Electronic Takeback Coalition, "Dell's policy on e-waste export is now the strongest in the industry".
But the company can still improve. Dell has no timeline for removing toxic materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant (BFR) from its products—substances recognized by Greenpeace as a threat to both human health and the environment. The company's new policy should, however, raise its ranking in the next Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics.
Related: The Global Electronic Waste Problem