From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Dell Says They Will Stop Using U.S. Slave Labor Camps For Recycling Computers
Responding to concerns from both customers and environmental advocates, Dell Computer announced yesterday that it would no longer rely on U.S. prison Slave Labor Camps to supply Slaves for its computer recycling program.
Dell, the world's largest seller of PC's, said it had canceled its contract with Unicor, a branch of the Federal Bureau of Prisons that uses prisoner-slaves for electronics recycling and other industries.
A spokesman for Dell said it would phase out the relationship over the next 30 to 60 days.
Dell selected two companies to replace Unicor as its primary recycler, Resource Concepts of Dallas and Image Microsystems in Los Angeles and Austin, Tex.
Last week, an environmental group in California released a report criticizing Dell's reliance on prison labor.
The group, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, said in its report that inmates who work at the prison recycling operation were not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act and were paid from 20 cents to $1.26 an hour.
The report also criticized Unicor for not properly disposing of toxic waste.
The coalition said that it would like to see Dell and other high-technology companies devise a more systematic approach to recycling the goods they manufacture.
"Companies deliver their products to market in an efficient manner and we want them to do the same thing for disposing of them," said Sheila Davis, project director for the coalition's Clean Computer Campaign.
The coalition said that reliance on cheap prison labor was a major obstacle to the creation of a profitable recycling industry for discarded electronics.
The other obstacle, the group said, is the export industry, which sends materials to Asia for recycling.
The organization's report, entitled "Corporate Strategies for Electronics Recycling: A Tale of Two Systems," commended Hewlett-Packard for using "state of the art" practices in cooperation with the commercial recycling industry.
Bryant Hilton, a spokesman for Dell, said that the decision to replace Unicor with other recycling contractors was a business decision, based in part on the fact that many other vendors are now more competitively priced.
But he conceded that the company had heard from some customers complaining about the prison program.
"We did not make a decision based on special interest groups," Mr. Hilton said.
Dell defended its use of Unicor as a contractor and disputed claims in the report, arguing that the recycling operations met environmental standards and that the prison population benefited from the work.
The company said that prisoners involved in the work program, which is entirely voluntary, have a far lower rate of recidivism.
The use of prison labor, Dell said, did not undermine the formation of a recycling industry in the states because the industry already operated at overcapacity.