One of the more fascinating aspects of Dell's new OptiPlex 960 systems (launched today) is the company's decision to include up to 10 percent post-consumer recycled plastics in the systems' chassis. The small form factor is available immediately, but the mini-tower and the desktop won't ship this way until December. The plastic comes from millions of recycled water bottles.
I've heard of other company's including post-consumer recycled content in their systems (Lenovo in the ThinkCentre M57 and Hewlett-Packard in some of its newer Photosmart printers), this could be the start of something bigger.
Dell senior technology strategy Jeremy Ford (also part of the Dell Office of the CTO) suggests that more tech hardware companies will start exploring their options here, and apparently this is becoming a pretty standard practice for earning a green-ish rating on monitors. That's because a company can earn a point under the EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool) rating system by using at least 10 percent recycled plastic in their product. EPEAT will keep raising the bar, and this will be one of the areas, Ford suggests.
He says using the recycled plastic results in a cost increase of less than $1 more per system, when compared with traditional materials, which made it a no-brainer to make the move from Dell's standpoint. As petroleum costs climb, this becomes a more viable option. As you start increasing the percentage of recycled material, however, the recycled plastic becomes much less stable and reliable, Ford says. "To go beyond 10 percent, that's where it becomes harder," Ford says.
Of course, recycled plastic isn't the only green feature that the OptiPlex 960 has going for it. The system consumes about 43 percent less power than its predecessor, it uses 88 percent efficient power supplies and its packaging is more ecofriendly than in the past. (Approximately 89 percent is recyclable, and there's a multipack packaging option that kicks in if you buy six or more systems.)