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E-waste fashion: are you wearing Dell?

Electronics created by Dell are getting an unexpected new afterlife application. The consumer products brand is transforming various components from end-of-life devices into fine pieces of jewellery.

Around US$ 60 million in gold and silver is being thrown away each year in the form of old phones, so the US Environmental Protection Agency has reported. This would mean that only about 13% of discarded electronics are properly recycled.

Indeed, it is no secret that computers, mobile phones and other electronics contain a large number of precious metals. Recyclers have long been seeking ways to optimise the extraction of silver, gold, platinum, palladium and other so-called ‘technology metals’. Dell has taken a rather original view of this niche market by creating a limited edition line of rings, bracelets, earrings and cuff links from its very own e-waste metals – gold, to start with.

High quality appeal

Prices for these unique e-accessories range from US$ 78 for a gold ring to US$ 348 for a set of gold cuff links. The pieces have been designed by actress Nikki Reed and were recovered from computer motherboards.

Essentially, computers that are returned to Dell via its dedicated take-back schemes will no longer go straight to metal recyclers, where they were previously stockpiled before being turned back into electronics components. Dell hopes that its special jewellery line will showcase the inherent value of e-scrap to the wider audience.

Conscious fashion

There is approximately 800 times more gold in one ton of motherboards than there is in one ton of ore mined from the earth, estimates  Darrel Ward, senior vice president of commercial client solutions at Dell. He sees the e-jewellery launch as proof that luxury does not have to come at the cost of sustainability.

‘If we don’t start taking these precious metals out of the landfills and putting them back into the ecosystem, then we’ve all failed,’ Ward comments. And he underlines: ‘I think in order to make conscious consuming more than a blip on the radar, we have to come up with new ways to harness people’s attention and really get them to see that this is the only way forward.’

A positive legacy

As part of its Legacy of Good Program, Dell has pledged to recycle 100 million pounds of recycled content into its product portfolio by 2020. The company points out that, since 2012 it was able to recycle more than 50 million pounds of post-consumer recycled materials into new products.

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