By Melissa J. Anderson

We’ve covered Dell‘s sustainability initiatives several times on Evolved Employer. That’s because the company is working diligently to decrease its carbon footprint as well as reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills from electronics. The company’s work is paying off. This year, Newsweek named it number one in its US 500 Greenest Companies list.

But it’s not just about cutting emissions and landfill space. According to Newsweek, one of the top reasons the company shines is because of its green jobs initiative.

Green Commitments

Since 2005, Dell has partnered with Goodwill Industries and Staples to recycle old electronic material – consumers can bring in old e-waste and Dell will keep it out of landfills.

The fact of the matter is, that the electronics turnover rate is huge. With users purchasing more electronic equipment at an increasing frequency, and trashing the old models in turn, a lot of e-waste is produced. The partnerships with Goodwill Industries and Staples keeps a large portion of that waste out of the landfills (consumers can also mail old equipment back to the company) and in the production cycle.

According to Newsweek, Dell has “used 7.2 million pounds of post-consumer recycled plastic to build new computers.” That’s a pretty strong commitment to a greener tomorrow.

Chairman and CEO Michael Dell says:

“Sustainability makes Dell a more responsible partner to its customers. Dell was recognized for its efforts to ensure sustainability is built into its supply chain and operations, as well as its work to make ‘being green’ easy and cost-effective for customers the company’s convenient recycling programs, for example, have diverted more than 484 million pounds of equipment from landfills since 2006.”

Green Jobs – Real Sustainability

Dell’s work in sustainability reveals a broader definition of what sustainability means. It’s not simply about being green – it’s also about building a sustainable future for employees and communities. In a recent FastCompany article, Dave Gardner wrote:

“For six years, Dell has had a relationship with Goodwill Industries that has resulted in the creation of 250 green jobs through a program called Dell Reconnect. These green jobs have gone to individuals who might otherwise find themselves challenged to find jobs due to issues that many employers might find disqualifying.”

The recycling program is about giving electronics materials a second life, but it’s also about giving individuals a second chance. According to Gardner, the program provides these individuals with skills they need to get back to work in the private sector, including job training and certifications.

The program also shows that Dell’s commitment to sustainability is a broadly important idea, rather than a marketing or PR initiative centered around “being green.” It’s also about building jobs and providing sustained job training and opportunities for individuals who might be otherwise out of luck.