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Dell Launches ‘Plant a Tree for Me’ Offset Program

Dell is offering customers the opportunity to offset the emissions associated with the electricity used to power their computers through its Plant a Tree for Me program. Dell is partnering with The Conservation Fund and Carbonfund.org, non-profit organizations that will use the funds to plant trees in sustainably managed forests, absorbing carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere from generated electricity. The company said that 100 percent of the donations received by the Plant a Tree for Me program will be used by partners to facilitate planting trees.

A customer donation of $2 for a notebook and $6 for a desktop will go toward the planting of trees, offsetting the equivalent emissions resulting from the production of electricity used during the average three-year use of a computer.

The program is available now to Dell’s U.S. consumer customers making new computer purchases. It will be available to any U.S. consumer for any brand of computer in February and available to global consumers in April.

The reaction to the announcement has been positive, but at least one article is already wondering why Dell isn’t paying to plant the trees themselves. (To highlight the difference, yesterday, GreenPrint Technologies, the maker of software designed to eliminate wasteful printing, announced that it will plant one tree for every copy of GreenPrint’s Home Edition sold through its Website.) Consumers can go to any number of sites themselves to offset their use of electricity if they wish. Dell is paying the administrative costs to run the tree planting program.

New studies have also questioned whether planting trees is an effective way to fight global warming.

But most consumers will not see any downside to Dell’s program – if in fact there is any – and the company’s announcement will position it as an environmental leader in the eyes of consumers.

Dell also launched a new Web site, which highlights Dell’s environmental responsibility programs. The site contains information on Dell’s approach to environmental leadership, links to information on environmental programs and policies found throughout dell.com. The site also contains an “energy counter” that tracks the accumulated energy and carbon savings impact enabled by Energy Smart features on Dell products.

In recent news, Dell completed the rollout of its global recycling policy in December (although that too faced some criticism)and remains the only company in the industry to offer consumers free product recycling, worldwide irrespective of product purchase. Dell has also recently unveiled two PowerEdgeservers that the company says underscores its commitment to environmental responsibility and its goal to design the most energy-efficient products.

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