IT hardware giant Dell yesterday announced plans for a major new environmental initiative that will see it offer customers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions generated powering their Dell systems.
The "Plant a Tree for Me" scheme was unveiled by Michael Dell at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where he also issued a plea for other IT firms to implement similar environmental initiatives.
"Programmes like 'Plant a Tree for Me' and our global recycling efforts empower our customers to participate with us in making a difference," he told delegates at the event. "It is our hope that other companies in our industry will join us to improve the environment that we all share."
Under the scheme, which will be launched in the US in February before being rolled out globally in April, customers buying new Dell kit will be given the option to donate $2 for a laptop and $6 for a desktop towards tree planting programmes run by The Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund.org.
The company said that the trees would "absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, offsetting the equivalent emissions resulting from the production of electricity used during the average three-year use of a computer".
The move is the latest in a line of initiatives designed to entrench Dell as one of the leading lights in the IT industry's push for more environmentally friendly business models. The company has won plaudits from environmentalists for its take back scheme and developments in more energy efficient systems, and was recently praised by Greenpeace for its strong record on removing toxic chemicals from its components.
"Dell is taking significant and inspired leadership toward ecologically intelligent design by initiating the responsible return of its products and its Plant a Tree for Me programme," said William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle and a renowned environmental expert. "It's a very exciting time; both programmes represent delightful strategies of hope for the clean and green future."
However, the tree planting programme is unlikely to receive unqualified praise from environmentalists, many of whom have raised doubts about the effectiveness of reforestation as a means of combating climate change. Critics claim that calculating the amount of CO2 a tree will absorb is an inexact science and is based on the assumption that the tree will survive for its entire projected life. One recent study even argued that reforestation programmes outside of the Tropics have no effect on climate change and may even increase global warming by darkening the surface of the earth. They argued that renewable energy schemes or energy efficiency programmes are a more effective way of offsetting carbon emissions.
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