Michael Dell said this week that he wants to make Dell “the greenest company on Earth for the long term.” Take that, HP!
Seriously, it’s fascinating to watch the Dell-HP rivalry play out around the issues of sustainability. HP took environmental issues seriously long before Dell, and its done great things in the areas of design and recycling, but lately the Silicon Valley pioneer has been leapfrogged by the Austin, Texas-based computer giant. Both are way ahead of Apple, as it happens. Of course, HP’s the leader where it counts most–in terms of earnings and PC sales.
I’ve written about the greening of Dell before, but this week’s announcement, made in London, takes the company to a new level. Dell announced a sweeping “Zero Carbon Initiative,” designed to reduce and eventually offset the CO2 emissions made by the company’s products. It also promised to reduce the carbon intensity of its global operations by 15% by 2012 (which isn’t quite as aggressive as it sounds, because “carbon intensity” measures emissions per unit of output, rather than overall emissions.) It’s asking its primary suppliers to begin reporting greenhouse gas emissions data. And Dell extended its “Plant a Tree for Me” program to Europe; that’s the invitation to computer users to offset the emissions associated with the electricity their computers use.
Interestingly, Michael Dell also promised to personally match all the donations made to the “Plant a Tree for Me” program during the next three months.
You can read more about Dell’s announcement here. Dell also invited consumers and outsiders to offer their own ideas and reactions at its Ideastorm website, which is a smart way to tap into the creativity of others and solicit best practices from outside the company. (More than 5,000 ideas have been submitted.) All the details matter less than the fact that the U.S.’s two biggest computer makers are now in a competition around sustainability. Pretty cool.