Dell has won plenty of plaudits in the last few months for its environmental record, securing praise from Greenpeace for its phasing out of some harmful chemicals used in its machines and recently releasing new energy efficient servers and services.
But for one IT Week reader there remains a considerable flaw in the vendor's environmental policy.
Posting a comment in response to the recent story on Dell's Energy Smart 1950 and 2950 servers - which claim to reduce power consumption by 20 percent compared to standard models - one IT manager claimed that while the new servers may boast a more energy efficient Intel processor and new intelligent cooling technology the packaging used to deliver Dell's servers are "a far cry from recyclable".
"[In Dell's packaging] polystyrene rules and even though they are stamped "recycle" no one in the UK will recycle them," he wrote. "Meanwhile competitors' products arrive safely in eco-friendly recycled cardboard (which can be recycled again). Shame on you Dell! We need you to be Eco friendly beyond Intel's latest CPU."
A spokesman for Dell responded with a comment accepting that the reader had a valid point and insisting that the company was committed to limiting the environmental impacts of its packaging.
He added that the company had already reduced its total use of packaging and that it was investigating how to increase the amount that is recycled. He also claimed Dell was currently "doing some interesting things with reusable packaging that can ship multiple products at once".
Dell's rapid response to the criticism is to be applauded, but the justifiable censure for its packaging serves to highlight the risks any firm faces when it embraces an environmentally sustainable business model.
Business leaders are rapidly realising that environmental actions have to stretch right across every aspect of the business; otherwise, somewhat ironically, the company leaves itself open to more criticism than those who do nothing. This is the price firms have to pay for the good publicity that comes with sustainable business models.
However, the more philosophical environmentally-conscious firms will realise, as Dell appears to have done, that criticism for not doing enough should be a spur for more action rather than less, as it actually validates green policies by proving there is a customer base that really cares about these issues.
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