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Putting Dell Sustainability To The Test at DTW 2022
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May 4, 2022 Blog

We have been quite vocal at Disruptive Tech Asean at the Tech Companies Using Their Sustainability Announcement as a smoke-screen. The announcements detract from the fact that CPU usage worldwide consumes enormous amounts of energy.

So I was pleasantly surprised to bump into Page Motes Dell’s global head of sustainability whilst touring the exhibition area at DTW 2022.

Page was explaining to me about an environmentalist who they had supported with IT equipment on his expeditions when we switched the conversation to the question of high power consumption by the tech industry in general.

Page was well informed; she told us that the IT industry as a whole consumes 2% of the world’s power consumption and that Dell is committed to working with other major tech companies to reduce that percentage. She explained they are working with the other major tech manufacturers to try and reduce carbon footprint in the manufacturing process and related supply chains.

She agreed that it could sometimes look like sustainability announcements could be a “marketing ploy” but that Dell is transparent in their approach to sustainability, both good and bad.

We questioned whether the 2% ratio was correct, citing how CPU cycles from Bitcoin mining alone are said to consume more power than entire countries such as Finland. Page was able to show us she was well-informed on the subject, explaining that Dell supported distributed ledger technology in general. Still, that bitcoin was very power-intensive, so they have not “leaned in” to support that particular distributed ledger.

She also pointed out she is not sure how many “Dell” machines are used in Bitcoin mining. However, given the impact that this one use of processing power has, there is an argument that understanding where and how Dell machines might be used in the process (e.g. within cloud providers ) might be important.

 

Page also went into detail about the lengths Dell has gone to in its manufacturing processes, reducing carbon emissions in that process by 77% in recent years. Even managing to incorporate more sustainable materials into packaging and the build of hardware itself.

Understanding sustainability and the real impact of these programs is complex and difficult to break down. It requires more than a quick 10-minute conversation.
However, here’s what I know. The datacentre industry has done a good job reducing terawatt consumption in recent years. Suggesting these initiatives to improve processing efficiency and power consumption is real and working.

Page did a good job convincing me that Dell is very serious about its sustainability programs within its manufacturing chain. But when it comes to the impact that “using” their products has on carbon emissions, whilst Dell is not shirking responsibility, that’s a whole bigger can of worms.

Written by Melina Hwang, Invited by Dell to attend DTW 2022

 

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