Each time you buy a computer monitor from Dell's Web site, you have to pay between $8 and $25 for a "State Environmental Fee."
I always wondered how that fee would be spent. After all, last time I was in Vietnam, I spotted many used and dated computers and monitors from Dell and HP in Internet cafes and online gaming centers. There are also shops in Hanoi specializing in gathering broken computers from these brands to sell parts.
But that's going to change, slightly. On Tuesday, Dell, with its new Electronics Disposition Policy (PDF), officially banned the export of electronic waste to developing countries.
This e-waste includes broken computers, monitors, and computer parts. This is a great move by the company, as once exported, this equipment will probably end up being dumped like regular trash or recycled in informal and often hazardous ways such as smashing and burning in open air.
The scope of the new policy applies to all Dell employees, consultants, independent contractors, outsource service providers, and general services suppliers, and also Dell environmental partners. Compliance is mandatory.
While this is great news, personally I think it would be more helpful if Dell also included dated computer equipment in the list of e-waste. Dated and used computer equipment in working condition can become waste by the time it arrives at its destination, or shortly thereafter.
Nonetheless, Dell's new standard will hopefully raise the bar for other electronics makers in regard to keeping the environment safe from electronic waste.
It's important to note that in the States, Dell has been very active in recycling by partnering with Staples to offer free recycling for its equipment.