(Cybertech) – Like many tech manufacturers, Dell is looking ahead to a time when products are fully recyclable. But it has also been talking about devices that could effectively disassemble themselves – coming apart in as little as 30 seconds.
The fully recyclable goal is the first step – so-called circular design. Dell previously said it wanted to achieve this for all the products it makes by 2030.
During a call with Cybertech, Dell’s Ed Boyd – head of the company’s Experience Design Group – said that the company was aiming high: “Today when you take apart, any device from us or any other company, you know there’s typically adhesives and lots of screws involved in that. So imagine having a client where you push a pin into a small hole inside of it and the whole system starts to disassemble. So what used to take maybe 30 minutes to fully take apart, we want to do it in 30 seconds.”
Dell is also working to make products use less materials in a move that reflects its (and the industry’s) attitude to packaging. “We’re striving to radically redesign the product so that we’re using less materials, we’re integrating and miniaturising the technology.
“And so that’s helping us drive to smaller form factors [designs}. More modularity is being incorporated into that, you know, There’s been tremendous collaboration going on with our… manufacturing partner [moving from larger] components to very small integrated ones.”
“When we take back a device, our goal is always to first refurbish, use the product. If the device is no longer in a working condition and can’t be refurbished then we want to dismantle it and so this design for this assembly becomes really key. Our goal is to take the parts – 90% of Dell parts can typically be fully recycled. So, you know, there’s a tonne of opportunity here for us and others in the IT industry to do this. Today, we’ve created more than 100 million pounds (around 45,000 tonnes) of recycled plastic parts that are ‘closed-loop’ within our products.” In other words, they’re fully recycled and recyclable.
Boyd says the 2030 goals are “very aspirational for us but they don’t come out of nowhere. We have a strong legacy of really pushing the bar on sustainability initiatives.
The most notable of our successes in the past two years have been where we’ve recaptured materials that would be waste and incorporated back into our materials for our devices. So [ocean plastic] was incorporated into the packaging for XPS devices.
Boyd says Dell’s work on materials has also looked at the space industry and capturing ways to incorporate work from there into carbon fibre laptop lids. There are “even some more, you know off the wall examples where we captured air pollution and turn that into a repackaging on some of our devices. And windshields that we’ve turned into carrying cases.
“So we’ve got a strong legacy of that type of recapture of materials and incorporating recycled materials into our devices, but really where we’re going next extends well beyond that and introduces more circularity into our design.”
Writing by Dan Grabham.