Sustainability Blog

Dell’s most recent 2016 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report builds on a tradition of detailed disclosure.  This post looks into how Dell incorporates the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) into their FY16 Corporate Social Responsibility report.

The first step for many CSR/Sustainability programs in an organization is to outline objectives and create a deadline for achieving those objectives.  Dell approached sustainability in 2012 by creating a “10 x 20 Goal” in which they state: “the good that will come from our technology will be 10x what it takes to use and create it” by 2020.  Using this as a compass for their 21 goals, Dell then tackles the specific aspects of community, people, and the environment within their business.  For more info, watch “Dell’s 2020 Legacy of Good Plan

Four of those 21 goals fell under “reduce the environmental impact of our operations”.  In these four areas of internal focus, Dell demonstrates a firm commitment to monitoring and improving the environmental impact of their daily operations.  The following four goals can be read about in detail in their 2016 report.  

1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our facilities and logistics operations by 50%:  “In FY16, we decreased greenhouse gas emissions from our combined facilities and logistics operations by 15.9 percent compared to FY15. We have reduced combined emissions by 21.8 percent since our baseline year of FY13.” 

2. Ensure 90% of waste in Dell-operated buildings is diverted from landfills: “In FY16, our manufacturing facilities diverted 97 percent of their total wastes from landfills. Because this is the largest source of our operational wastes, we remain on track for achieving this goal. We estimate that the global diversion rate in our other Dell-operated buildings remains in the 55-60 percent range, on average.”

3. Reduce our water use in water-stressed regions by 20%: “In FY16, fresh water consumption increased by 1 percent at Dell operated facilities located in water-stressed regions compared to last year. Based on intensity metrics to allow for acquisitions and divestitures, we have achieved a 9 percent reduction since our baseline year of FY13. We remain on track for this goal.” 

4. Develop and maintain sustainability initiatives in 100% of Dell-operated buildings:  “At the end of FY16, 87 percent of our Dell-operated facilities had at least one active sustainability initiative in one or more of our eligible categories: equipment or building upgrades, renewable energy use, on-site services and employee engagement.”

Four years into the 10 x 20 goal and it would seem that Dell is well on their way to achieving their stated in-house environmental objectives.  It comes as no surprise then that Dell’s FY 2016 report places increased emphasis on supplier accountability. By focusing on secondary and tertiary impacts of their business, an organization can move closer to monitoring and enhancing the full life cycle of their products.  Dell requires all of their tier-1 suppliers complete an Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) third-party audit in addition to perform sustainability reporting to Global Reporting Initiative standards.  These two requirements are useful techniques by which Dell can reduce their scope three emissions.  

After identifying, measuring, and working on their action areas, Dell took a step further to disclose environmental impacts to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).  The CDP is a UK based organization with charity status that gives organizations guidance on how to disclose various environmental criteria to the public.  As stated in their name, the CDP encourages as many organizations as possible to measure and report their impacts on the environment.  According to their 2014 report, nearly 2000 companies disclosed their carbon emissions to the CDP.  Disclosed data is then compiled into reports so the public can track overall progress and evaluate best practices for reducing emissions. 

According to the CDP: “Companies that measure their environmental risk are better able to manage it strategically.  And those that are transparent and disclose this information are providing decision makers with access to a critical source of global data that delivers the evidence and insight required to drive action.”  There are four areas where companies collaborate with the CDP: climate changedeforestation riskwater use, and supply chains

So how does Dell contribute to the CDP?

Dell has been disclosing their impact in the categories of climate change and water use in addition to the impact of their suppliers since 2013.  Those reports can be downloaded here from the CDP website.  According to their 2016 report: 

“We educate suppliers on these standards through orientations and trainings. Using information disclosed via CDP, we have identified which Dell suppliers have the highest levels of energy and water intensity, and we have begun the process of defining how to work with these suppliers to lower greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption in our supply chain…In FY15 and FY16, we invited 83 suppliers to report their water usage to CDP’s water disclosure program as a first step toward characterizing our supply chain water footprint. We used the CDP data and our own hot-spot mapping to identify our 50 suppliers with the highest water usage and/or risk of natural disaster. By the end of FY16, all 50 published a five-year water risk mitigation plan.” (p. 22 Dell FY 16 CSR Report).