Material & Resource Use
EMC aims to meet the highest standards of environmental stewardship, maximize the economic value of returned products, and effectively manage risks associated with product end-of-life processes. Our global eWaste program looks to improve management of eWaste worldwide, both within EMC and externally, through partnerships and innovation. We offer product take-back to all of our customers to help ensure products are recycled or disposed of responsibly and in compliance with the law.
COLLABORATING TO SET INDUSTRY STANDARDS AND CREATE INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS
Establishing Industry-Wide eWaste Metrics
Rigorous standards and metrics are essential for building and assessing effective global eWaste programs. EMC is actively engaged with The Green Grid to develop and promote consistent, industry-wide eWaste metrics that measure and account for responsible recycling and disposal.
Crowdsourcing SolutionsIn 2012, EMC partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund and Innocentive to crowdsource ideas for tracking eWaste through the recycling and disposal process. The goal was to identify solutions to help verify responsible eWaste management. EMC hosted an international virtual meeting with EMC engineers and the three crowdsourced contest winners to discuss their ideas. As a result, EMC is currently working to pilot potential eWaste tracking solutions and plans to share key learnings with the industry in 2013.
Thinking Broadly about Social and Environmental Impacts
EWaste processing can be an economic opportunity for people in developing countries, but can also pose risks to their health and the environment if not properly managed. In 2012, we explored this issue by launching a partnership with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, EMC employees in Bangalore, India; a local Information Technology Asset Disposal (ITAD) supplier in India, and an Indian NGO. The goal of the partnership is to identify alternative economic models that will advance responsible eWaste collection and processing—while preserving local collectors’ participation. In 2013, EMC plans to strengthen this partnership and pilot a program to achieve its goals. The program will initially provide education and eWaste collection opportunities to local schools in Bangalore. We hope to expand this program over time to include other opportunities for promoting responsible eWaste management. This initiative will focus mainly on consumer electronics in India, as enterprise equipment sold by EMC is less pervasive in the secondhand market.
ADVANCING OUR RESPONSIBLE EWASTE PRACTICES: A LIFECYCLE PERSPECTIVE
Design for Disassembly
A truly effective take-back and eWaste program starts with product design. The easier a product is to disassemble, the easier it is to reclaim, recycle, and dispose of in a responsible manner. This reduces waste and recaptures the value of recyclable and reusable materials. Our standard design specifications include easy component recovery and continual improvement of disassembly procedures.
In 2012, EMC hosted a Design for the Environment event in which representatives from our ITAD suppliers met with EMC engineers to identify opportunities to design for more efficient recycling and recovery. Together, the team brainstormed ways to simplify disassembly (e.g., replacing screws with clips), segregate possible hazardous materials, and identify new ways to find and remove valuable materials for enhanced economic returns.
Responsible Handling of Customer Returns
We accept returns of all EMC-branded products at the end of their useful life. Where appropriate, we recondition products for donation or internal deployment. All remaining products are disassembled. Where possible, some subassemblies are re-manufactured and tested to new product standards, so the products may be used again. Products that cannot be re-manufactured are sent to our ITAD suppliers, who responsibly reclaim, recycle, or resell the remaining material—sending less than one percent to landfills. To protect customer information, disk drives are degaussed (magnetically erased) and/or physically shredded prior to recycling.
In 2012, we took back an estimated 10,041 metric tons of eWaste. Our cumulative returns from 2008-2012 stands at approximately 90 million pounds (40,823 metric tons)—surpassing our five-year cumulative collection goal of 75 million pounds.
EMC has chosen not to set additional eWaste collection targets based on weight, although annual weights will still be reported. As storage technologies improve, our products are getting smaller and lighter, even though our customers are storing ever-greater amounts of data. Furthermore, taking back a greater weight of product does not necessarily indicate improved environmental performance. EMC would rather our products have a longer lifespan and be adaptable to changing customer needs. These forces may actually drive down the annual weight of product taken back, yet reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing new products. We plan to measure performance and set goals around how responsibly EMC and our ITAD suppliers manage the eWaste we do receive.
ITAD Supplier Certifications and Auditing
Partnering with responsible and transparent ITAD suppliers is crucial to proper eWaste management. In 2012, we set requirements for suppliers to achieve e-Stewards or R2 certification by the end of 2013. By the end of 2012, approximately 73 percent of eWaste collected by EMC was disposed of at an R2 or e-Stewards certified facility, including 100 percent in the United States. Moving forward, our goal is to send 100 percent of eWaste collected to an R2 or e-Stewards certified facility by 2014. This goal also aligns with The Green Grid’s new Electronics Disposal Efficiency (EDE) metric, which EMC helped establish.
EMC surpassed our goal of auditing 80 percent of our ITAD suppliers’ sites by auditing 94 percent of them via a third party in 2012. Audits include verification and/or confirmation of:
- Downstream Disposition
- Mass balance accounting
- Shipping documentation
- Business Management
- Process documentation
- Contingency planning
- External certifications, such as R2 or e-Stewards
- Working conditions
- Data and hardware security
- Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS)
Audit results from 14 facilities included 40 downstream findings, 133 business management findings, and 178 EHS findings. Examples of findings included lack of proper downstream documentation, incomplete site closure and contingency plans, and low levels of employee health and safety training. EMC was concerned about the severity and large number of findings, and worked closely with our ITAD suppliers to address them.
Each ITAD supplier was required to create a Corrective Action Plan, which was monitored closely by EMC. All findings, with few exceptions, were also required to be closed (with documentation) within three months of discovery. In fact, many ITAD suppliers were able to close minor findings immediately and the majority of them worked diligently to address findings. EMC plans to continue annual auditing and has incorporated audit findings as a key performance indicator for all ITAD suppliers.
In 2013, our goal is to audit all ITAD suppliers and ensure that 100 percent of them are either R2 or e-Stewards certified. In addition, all ITAD suppliers will have to acknowledge the EICC Code of Conduct in 2013.
Global Alignment for Greater Efficiency
In 2012, we developed a five-year strategic plan to manage eWaste across the globe in a responsible and uniform manner. As part of that plan, ITAD suppliers are now managed along with other EMC direct material suppliers and held to the same standards for performance and quality. EMC has placed an emphasis on working with ITAD suppliers that can partner with us in multiple locations and across several aspects of our business. To learn more about supplier standards for performance and quality, visit Supply Chain.
EMC has established additional eWaste handling capabilities in-region to reduce GHG emissions from transportation of goods, reduce logistics costs of transporting used electronics, and prepare for compliance with evolving international regulations. Additional locations include the western United States, China, Thailand, and Western Europe.
In 2013, EMC will expand our eWaste processing capabilities even further in Asia and South America. All of these new sites will be required to obtain R2 or e-Stewards certification by the end of the year.