Turning e-waste into treasure: a collaboration
IT equipment manufacturer Dell and actress, entrepreneur and activist Nikki Reed have collaborated in support of the sustainable design movement to recycle e-waste into gold jewellery. The Circular Collection by Bayou with Love and Dell is a new limited edition, jewellery collection made in the US and sourced from gold recovered from Dell’s recycling programs. The collection, which includes 14- and 18-carat gold rings, earrings and cufflinks, will be showcased at this year’s 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (#CES2018) to highlight the widespread impact that e-waste, or disposable electronic equipment, has on the environment and the role we all play in advancing a circular economy.
“Bayou with Love was created to bring greater awareness to the human impact on our planet and show that beautiful items can come from sustainably sourced and recycled materials,” says Nikki Reed, co-founder of Bayou with Love. “By recycling gold that was once considered ‘waste,’ Dell and I are working to create an environment where we continuously reuse resources and strive for zero waste.”
In addition, Dell is announcing an industry-first pilot to use recycled gold from used electronics in new computer motherboards, which will ship in the award-winning Latitude 5285 2-in-1s starting this spring. The pilot follows a successful feasibility study on server motherboards. The closed-loop gold process could support the creation of millions of new motherboards in the next year. It expands Dell’s closed loop program from plastics to precious metals.
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. The new Circular Collection and Dell pilot demonstrate the potential for these precious materials to be recycled into goods that are beautiful, valuable and sustainable. Not only does reusing and upcycling gold from used technology have economic benefits, it also creates enormous environmental and social benefits by avoiding the damage to human health and the leaching of pollutants commonly associated with mined gold. 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.
“At Dell, we pride ourselves in finding better, more efficient ways to do business particularly throughout our supply chain,” says Jeff Clarke, Dell vice chairman. “Materials innovation – where and how we source things like plastic, carbon fibre and now gold for our products – is increasingly important for us. When you think about the fact that there is up to 800 times more gold in a tonne of motherboards than a tonne of ore from the earth, you start to realise the enormous opportunity we have to put valuable materials to work. Nikki Reed gets that and so do we. It takes constantly thinking outside of the box and pushing the boundaries of innovation to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.”
Dell has spent more than a decade working with sustainable materials in products and packaging. Since 2012, Dell has recycled more than 50 million pounds of post-consumer recycled materials into new products. 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.
To support the effort, consumers in the US can drop off their 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. Using an environmentally-responsible extraction process, the used electronics are broken down into individual components by Dell’s environmental partner, Wistron GreenTech. Gold from the motherboards is then recycled into new computer motherboards as part of Dell’s closed loop supply chain or upcycled into other products.
Images courtesy of Dell.