Q&A with Design for Recycling Winner Dell Inc. – featuring Scott O’Connell, Director, Environmental Affairs at Dell

1. How does Dell’s corporate culture embrace ISRI’s designing for recycling principles?
We are a company that personifies entrepreneurial spirit, celebrates it every day, and embodies it in everything we do. We’re focused on winning at Dell, but winning the right way. To us, that’s embodied by a commitment to integrity and responsibility. Every day across Dell, people pair the power of technology with the power of innovation to make a positive social and environmental impact. Beyond compliance, Dell Powering the Possible is our commitment to put technology to do the most good for people and the planet.

This philosophy guides our product designers to think and design using systems concept and lifecycle approach. From design to recycling and everything in between, we look at the cradle to cradle environmental impact at each step of products’ lifecycle. This methodology aligns with ISRI’s design for recycling principles as well as other high industry design standards.

2. Why did you choose to submit Dell’s Latitude 10 and XPS tablets and the Latitude E7240 Ultrabook for ISRI’s Design for Recycling Award?
Ultrabook and Tablets are slim and lightweight, boast of longer battery life and resume from hibernation almost instantly. It is due to this reason that these products have quickly gained popularity in the consumer and business segment. Their rapid adoption also raises questions about their end-of-life characteristics. Dell accepts responsibility for continually improving the environmental design aspects of all products and their end-of-life management. Dell products are highly recyclable and Dell brought the same Design for Recycling methodology in our Tablets and Ultrabook.

Latitude 10 and Latitude E7240 were evaluated for recyclability by a 3rd party per the IEC 62635 standard and were found to be over 95% recyclable based on the current methodologies. This included evaluation of ease of disassembly (battery, LCD, circuit boards), assembly methods (modular, snap fits, less adhesives, uniform and less screws), material selection (preferable material choice for plastics and displays) and information sharing with recyclers. XPS 10 and Latitude 10 tablets were also independently evaluated by iFixIt (US) and Franhoufer Institute (Germany) and were recognized for superior design for recycling.

3. Speak to Dell’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainability?
Dell’s Environmental Policy commits us to deliver environmentally responsible products and services that prevent waste and pollution, demonstrate environmental responsibility, comply with the law and provides us tools to continually improve. In 2012 we launched this commitment as a first step toward a new sustainability strategy for Dell. Our Dell 2020 Legacy of Good Plan brings this strategy into focus and sets the trajectory for how social and environmental sustainability will become an accelerator for successful and sustainable customer and societal outcomes for years to come. Most important, our plan includes 21 ambitious, strategic goals bound by an end date of 2020. Our vision is that by 2020 the good that will come from our technology will be 10x what it takes to create and use it.

4. Why is winning ISRI’s 2014 Design for Recycling Award significant to Dell and how will you use this recognition to increase visibility of the importance of the design for recycling philosophy within the electronics industry?
The ISRI Design for Recycling Award is an honor that speaks to the highest standards for product’s environmental sustainability. It reminds product designers that their actions matter and they have a huge influence on how environmental protection and sustainability be impacted. But perhaps the most profound effect is that it encourages designers in Dell and every other company to start thinking and making choices and use their influence that could enable sound management of electronics products at their end-of-life.

We continue to champion the design for recycling philosophy in all the forums we engage and encourage our industry peers to do the same. Dell’s recognition by ISRI for the Design for Recycling Award will help us bring the issues experienced by recycling industry to the table and encourage collaboration with all stakeholders.

Catching Metals Thieves Red Handed

“Enforcement Solutions to Material Theft” described one new approach used to catch thieves in the act of material theft. 3SI Security Systems (Exton, Pa.) has been deploying a patented device originally designed for solving bank robberies, said Richard Long, senior vice president and director of global law enforcement. The compact, flexible device can be attached surreptitiously to common target materials. Terrence Cunningham, the Wellesley, Mass., police chief, explained how he used it to catch those stealing copper wire a few inches thick from a municipal light plant. Other, similar uses have tracked thefts of streetlights, cable, tractor-trailer tires, fire hydrants, construction equipment, bicycles, vehicle batteries, and propane tanks, Long said.

The device can hold a charge while dormant for two to three years, Long said. It can deploy when moved, when removed from a defined geographic area, or based on other triggers. Deployment launches 3SI’s proprietary tracking system, which the device owner can access via computer or mobile phone. The device transmits a GPS signal, a cellular signal, and a RF signal every six to 60 seconds that shows its speed, direction, path of travel, and GPS coordinates—information useful for immediate pursuit and later investigation and prosecution. The signal will continue for about seven hours after deployment, with options to extend that lifespan.

Law enforcement agencies can purchase and deploy the devices, Long said, but other community members sometimes band together to purchase the devices for them to fight a specific crime problem. Private companies also use them for internal investigations without police involvement. 3SI sells the devices individually and charges a monthly monitoring fee per device.

The Future of Electronics Recycling

Electronics recycling in the next five years will likely focus on mobile devices and their designs, which are expected to evolve to make the items more recyclable and reusable, said panelists at the “Future Trends in Recycling” workshop Wednesday.

Today, the latest wireless phones include security features that kill usability and destroy data if a phone is lost or stolen or when a user disposes of a phone to upgrade to a newer one. It’s called “bricking”—and while that might make consumers more comfortable about the personal information they store on their phones, what that means for recyclers, resellers and refurbishers is that those devices can never be used again as phones.

Recyclers are instead stacking these phones at their facilities, waiting—and hoping—that they might be able to do something with them in future, said panelist Lane Epperson of HiTech Assets.

To address this issue, companies that design and manufacture mobile devices are looking to do so in a way that strikes a balance between securing privacy and data and allowing for reuse as well. Sprint is developing mobile devices that incorporate “modularity,” which would extend the life of devices by allowing consumers to replace or upgrade segments of their phones as needed, such as displays, processors, memory, and batteries—and therefore recycling these devices in the future could focus on modules instead of complete units, said speaker Darren Beck of Sprint.

What’s not clear yet is how flexible recyclers and the scrap industry will be to adapt to such changes, said Epperson.

Another trend electronics recyclers could see in the next five years is government mandated third-party certification of electronics exports to ensure that downstream recycling meets environmental standards, said speaker Walter Alcorn of CEA.

Employee Communications Savvy

Employ, educate, and engage—those words describe “The Three Significant Circles of Management,” according to Dian Anderson of Anderson Coaching & Training and Judy Ferraro of Judy Ferraro & Associates, who led a workshop by that title on April 9. When interviewing job candidates, the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance, so probe for “behavior patterns” rather than correct answers to questions. Behavior-based interview questions to ask include: What did you do in your last job to contribute to a teamwork environment? Can you provide examples how you resolved a conflict between you and another person? Was there a time when your supervisor wasn’t satisfied with your work performance and, if so, what action did you take?

When training employees, it’s important to understand that people learn in three main ways—visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), or kinesthetic (experiencing). In addition, to ensure effective communication, remember that everything you choose to say–or not say–relays a message, Anderson said. For instance, if you don’t tell a good employee that they’re doing a great job, you’re sending a message that performance doesn’t matter, Anderson said. A person’s personality type also affects how he or she learns, with the four major types being driver (task-oriented people who get work done at all costs), socializer (people-focused individuals), relater (caretaker-type individuals who hate conflict), and analyzer (people who are thorough and deliberate). Each personality type processes information differently, Anderson said.

Common communication mistakes include assuming an employee knows certain information already, providing vague instructions or vague feedback, not following up or not following through, having no plan or focus on outcome, and hearing but not listening, Anderson said.

To ensure the best results from employee training, start with the end result you want to achieve in mind, which behavior you want to change, and what you want to change the behavior to, she concluded.

Advancements in Crumb Rubber Technology

Charles Astafan general manager of Columbus McKinnon Corp. (Amherst, N.Y.), discussed improvements in crackermill technology used to make crumb rubber with ambient material, while Bill Schreiber, Lehigh Technologies (Tucker, Ga.) provided an overview of products his firm makes using a cryogenic process during Advancements in Crumb Rubber Technology. The new machines conceptually run the same way as older models, Astafan said. The biggest change was the decoupling of the equipment’s rollers allowing for users to change its friction ratio, he said. Lehigh uses about 90 percent tire rubber that undergoes a cryogenic process to form micronized rubber powder that’s used in a number of products including tires and asphalt, he said.

A Video Message from Congressman John Shimkus

In a recently produced Public Service Announcement, Congressman John Shimkus, the House Recycling Caucus Co-Chair explains why recycling is so important to both the environment and the economy. He also says that he is committed to helping to promote recycling by removing harmful impediments to recycling and clarifying that scrap is not waste and recycling is not disposal. Congressman Shimkus concludes by urging everyone to keep on recycling.  Message from Congressman John Shimkus

Local News Showcases ISRI2014

KTNV, the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas, had a camera crew on hand at ISRI2014 on Wednesday. They spent time exploring the exhibit hall and learning about recycling. Check out the story that ran on the 5:00 and 6:00 news:  ISRI 2014 Coverage

Something to do Before Heading Home

Las Vegas has an array of museums, collections and galleries to choose from. The Discovery Children’s Museum is great for any age while the Auto Collection at the Quad is perfect for car enthusiasts. Visit Madame Tussauds and rub elbows with the famous. Bodies The Exhibition is sure to leave a lasting impression. There is truly an exhibit for everyone. More exhibits and information on locations can be found online.

Spotlight on the Economy

EconomyThe latest jobs figures from the U.S. Labor Department show that nonfarm payrolls increased by 192,000 in March, largely in line with expectations although the nation’s unemployment rate remains elevated by historical standards. Given the uneven manufacturing growth and conflicting signals from the housing market at home, coupled with signs of slowing growth in China and elsewhere, questions remain as to whether the U.S. economy has finally achieved “escape velocity” at a time when the Federal Reserve is continuing to taper its quantitative easing program. Whether the economy has reached “escape velocity” and what that would mean for the scrap industry will be among the key topics discussed at the Spotlight on the Economy to be held on Wednesday April 9 at 8:15 a.m. as part of the 2014 ISRI Convention & Expo where ISRI Chief Economist Joe Pickard will be joined by the following outstanding panel of economists: Ken Simonson, Chief Economist, Associated General Contractors of America and former President, National Association for Business Economics; Dan North, Chief Economist North America, Euler Hermes; and Jason Schenker, President and Chief Economist, Prestige Economics.

Law Enforcement Advisory Council Sets Goals for Outreach on Materials Theft

The two worlds of law enforcement and the scrap recycling industry came together in Vegas on Tuesday to share their different experiences as part of the solution to metals theft. More than a dozen law enforcement officials got an eye-opening tour of the ISRI 2014 exhibit hall to more fully understand the industry and then convened for the second meeting of the ISRI Metal Theft Law Enforcement Advisory Council (LEAC) to assist ISRI develop outreach and training materials for law enforcement and prosecutors.

In yet another highly productive meeting, the LEAC members guided ISRI on how to best reach law enforcement with our message that we are part of the solution to metals theft. The group proposed new data reporting code criteria to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice in May by LEAC member Chief Terrance Cunningham at a meeting on revamping the federal data crime reporting elements used by law enforcement nationwide. The consensus of the group being that data is needed to determine the scope of the problem which will lead to more finding for increased enforcement. The group also began work on outlining the need for an industry terms translation index for law enforcement, and a guide for prosecutors on evidence collection and what is needed from a scrap yard to build an effective case. Some of this discussion will be further examined in two workshops Wednesday in Mandalay Bay Ballroom J beginning at 10:15 a.m.

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