Organizations such as Greenpeace argue that datacenter operators need to consider not only energy efficiency but also the source of the energy they are using because source energy is often the single largest contributor of a facility's carbon footprint. A highly energy-efficient datacenter powered by fossil fuels could have a higher carbon footprint than an energy-inefficient datacenter powered by renewable energy. The environmental campaign group has criticized a number of large datacenter operators (including Facebook) for locating datacenters in areas with coal-intensive electricity production.
Dell says it will improve its use of renewable energy, but the CSR report does not include explicit targets. In February 2012, Dell opened a new cloud datacenter in Quincy, Washington, a location it chose in part because of the area's abundance of hydroelectric generation. Dell says it expects to announce other renewable-power initiatives in the future.
Dell has extended its sustainability remit to its supply chain. During the past two years, it has required that all its major 'tier 1' suppliers report to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Separately, Dell conducted audits of 125 facilities of its suppliers, including 25 audits that were validated by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), and released consolidated results relating to areas that do not comply with Dell's CSR standards. Dell says it requires its non-conforming suppliers to remedy those facility conditions that do not align with its CSR goals. Dell is also piloting the EICC's conflict-free minerals reporting template.
During the past year, all Dell removable media storage devices, memory and hard drives were manufactured without certain chemicals, including BFR, CFR and PVC. The company has not yet achieved its goal of manufacturing all new PC products without BFRs and PVCs.
Dell is one of the IT industry's most prolific recyclers, and in the past year, it recycled 29% more products compared to the previous year. The vendor has a free recycling service for consumer products, but charges enterprise customers a fee. It relies on third-party recyclers for these services. Dell created a recycler performance standard, which was established in 2005, that bans e-waste export to developing countries and says it closely oversees execution to those principals.