Every year 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide, but only 12.5 percent of that ends up being repurposed in other products. To narrow this gap and raise awareness on the growing issue among consumers, companies are coming up with creative ways to close the loop. Now, one electronics brand is bringing the e-waste issue to life in a flashy, unexpected way while tackling a problem prevalent in its industry.
At the world’s largest tech summit, CES, Dell announced a new line… of jewelry. The tech giant partnered with Bayou with Love to create the “The Circular Collection”, a jewelry line made from e-waste which includes 14 to 18-karat gold rings, earrings and cuff links made of gold recovered from Dell’s recycling programs. Dell’s Vice Chairman, Jeff Clarke, explains the line is part of a larger attempt to mainstream repurposing e-waste, “When you think about the fact that there is up to 800x more gold in a ton of motherboards than a ton of ore from the earth, you start to realize the enormous opportunity we have to put valuable materials to work.” Dell has been working with Goodwill for over 10 years to collect e-waste, but developing a sustainable method for harvesting the gold from products without using harsh chemicals has taken time. Dell’s commitment to reducing e-waste began in 2013 when the company set a goal to reuse 50 million pounds of recycled materials into its products by 2020. And when the company met that goal early, thanks to its partnership with Goodwill and conscious consumers, it doubled the number to 100 million pounds. The jewelry line aims to highlight the massive impact that e-waste has on the environment and how consumers can aid in advancing a circular economy. And the jewelry line is vastly more sustainable than alternatives, a study calculated for Dell found that “recycled gold has 99 percent less environmental impact than traditionally mined gold.”
Although jewelry may seem like an illogical endeavor for a tech company, through turning circuit boards into coveted pieces of gold jewelry, Dell is bringing a complex issue to life in a consumer-friendly way. As brands continue to reimagine waste and supply chain solutions, sharing those innovations with consumer-facing activations will help showcase brands’ as CSR champions while inspiring others to re-think their impacts on the environment.