Dell has teamed up with actress and designer Nikki Reed to recycle gold from old computer motherboards into jewelry. The project is part of a “sustainable design” movement, and it contributes to Dell’s Legacy of Good Program, where the Round Rock, Texas, computer maker has pledged to recycle 100 million pounds of recycled content into its product portfolio by 2020. Dell unveiled the program at CES 2018, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week.
Reed’s Circular Collection will help Dell draw attention to the fact that gold reclamation from the millions of computer motherboards that now go into landfills is possible and valuable.
“This year is a big first for us because we’re moving out of plastic and carbon fiber into metal,” said Darrel Ward, senior vice president of commercial client solutions at Dell, in an interview with VentureBeat. “Because we’re pulling so much metal, so much gold out of the recycling program, more than we can put back into the supply chain — at least at this point — we have excess gold.”
He added, “We’ve struck a relationship with Nikki Reed, an actress and a jewelry designer, and we’re giving her all of our excess gold. She’s creating a line of jewelry out of upcycled gold from Dell recycled PCs.”
Dell’s manufacturing partner Wistron GreenTech created the process for extracting gold, and a study by Trucost says that the process has a 99 percent lower environmental impact than mining new gold.
The Circular Collection, distributed by Reed’s eco-conscious boutique Bayou With Love, includes 14- and 18-carat gold rings, earrings, and cufflinks. It will be showcased at CES to highlight the widespread impact that e-waste, or disposable electronic equipment, has on the environment and the role we all play in advancing a “circular economy.”
“By recycling gold that was once considered ‘waste,’ Dell and I are working to create an environment where we continuously reuse resources and strive for zero waste,” said Nikki Reed, cofounder of Bayou with Love, in a statement.
Dell is also announcing a pilot test to use recycled gold from used electronics in new computer motherboards, which will ship in the Latitude 5285 2-in-1 laptops starting in March. The pilot follows a successful feasibility study on server motherboards.
The closed-loop gold process was verified by ULEnvironment and could support the creation of millions of new motherboards in the next year.
It expands Dell’s closed loop program from ocean plastics to precious metals. Currently only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled into other products. As a result, it’s estimated that Americans throw away $60 million in gold and silver every year through unwanted phones alone.
The new Circular Collection and Dell pilot demonstrate the potential for these precious materials to be recycled into goods that are beautiful, valuable, and sustainable.
Dell has spent more than a decade working with sustainable materials in products and packaging. Since 2012, Dell has recycled more than 50 million pounds of post-consumer recycled materials into 80 new products, Ward said. To support the effort, consumers in the U.S. can drop off their unwanted and used electronics at a Goodwill participating in the Dell Reconnect program.
The Circular Collection by Bayou with Love has pieces starting at $88 and is available for preorder starting today.
“[Reed] really wanted to create pieces that are timeless, because even passing jewelry down generations is a way of recycling,” Ward said.