Supply Chain

Mitigating the risks of process chemical use

Dell partners with industry leaders to protect workers’ health and safety by monitoring, addressing and mitigating the risks associated with the use of process chemicals in product manufacturing.

Creating a Dell product requires innovation, design and engineering. It also requires chemistry. Every motherboard, monitor and chassis is composed of substances carefully chosen for their long-term performance and durability. We consider these substances’ impact on the environment and human health. We are committed to proactively identifying and eliminating substances of concern from our products, as outlined both in our 2020 Legacy of Good goals and our Chemical Use Policy, which we also require our suppliers to follow.

The chemical composition of the materials we use is just part of the story. Workers in our supply chain regularly use chemicals to clean parts or occasionally bond them together. Using these process chemicals all day long, day after day — or using them improperly — can cause potentially harmful effects.

We train suppliers on proper handling and use of protective equipment, but we want to be sure workers’ long-term health is protected from any cumulative effects due to process chemical exposure. Research into the long-term effects of these manufacturing process chemicals is limited, and they generally are not regulated — unlike the chemicals used inside products, for which Dell follows strict regulatory standards, such as RoHS and REACH. To address these issues of process chemicals proactively, Dell is working with Apple, HP and other founding members of the Clean Electronics Production Network (CEPN) to set industry standards, establish best practices and develop the tools needed to help everyone in the industry.

CEPN was launched in June 2016 to address complex workplace health and safety challenges in the supply chain. Our collective goal is to move toward zero exposure of workers to toxic chemicals in the electronics manufacturing process. We are exploring how Dell — and the industry as a whole — can manage processes, identify risks, determine which chemicals (if any) need to be phased out and measure how well our suppliers comply with the requirements we put forth.

In May 2017, we issued Dell’s Guidelines for Management of Manufacturing Process Chemicals. We asked suppliers to be ready to demonstrate conformance with the guidelines by Feb. 1, 2018. We confirmed that 100 percent of our final assembly facilities are compliant with the guidelines’ substances restrictions by this deadline.

These new guidelines supplement our Chemical Use Policy; the Materials Restricted for Use List, which we use to control substances in products; the Responsible Business Alliance’s Code of Conduct; and all other applicable laws that address the use of chemicals in manufacturing processes. They outline known substances we’ve restricted for use in manufacturing and set the expectation that suppliers be able to demonstrate a documented process for evaluating human and environmental risks. The guidelines require suppliers to follow the Hierarchy of Controls for protecting workers from occupational hazards, selecting the appropriate controls before using or modifying the use of all chemicals in manufacturing processes. If a supplier wants to introduce a substitute for an existing chemical, they must demonstrate conformance for that substitute.

Throughout FY18, we conducted an analysis of the current process chemicals used throughout Dell’s supply chain to establish a baseline. We surveyed 40 factories, including all nine of our own, to gather data on what chemicals are used, what risks we have and how our facilities are managing exposure and following safety protocols. We’ve shared this data with CEPN and are using it to analyze and address risks at other facilities.

Dell will continue working with CEPN to grow the network’s shared knowledge base, develop the tools we all need to successfully protect worker health and establish best practices for the industry to follow.

Supply Chain Goals

Supplier GHG Emissions Targets and Reporting

By 2020, Dell’s suppliers representing 95% of direct materials spend, along with key logistics suppliers, will set specific greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets and report on their emissions inventory

*Progress to goal is being calculated based on direct suppliers only.

88%* TO GOAL

Suppliers representing 84% of our direct materials spend, along with 60% of our key logistics suppliers, have set GHG emissions reduction targets and publicly report their emissions inventory.


direct suppliers


key logistics suppliers

FY18 - 84% of 95%
FY17 - 81% of 95% Percentage of direct suppliers with GHG reduction targets

Climate Action (13)

Supply Chain Transparency

Demonstrate 100% transparency into key issues within our supply chain, working with suppliers to mitigate risks in those areas. To help achieve this goal, we will continue to track the following metrics:

Supplier Audits

Audit 100% of high-risk [1] direct materials suppliers and select service suppliers [2]


It is our goal to audit 100% of our high-risk supplier facilities on a two-year cycle. In FY17–FY18, 91% of our high-risk supplier facilities (including first-tier and sub-tier supplier facilities) underwent Responsible Business Alliance third-party audits. As a result of the Dell and EMC integration, the number of supplier sites considered high-risk increased. We have adjusted our resources and will audit all remaining high-risk supplier sites in FY19.

FY18 - 91% of 100%
FY17 - 90% of 100% High-risk supplier audits

Decent Work and Economic Growth (8), Reduced Inequalities (10), Responsible Consumption and Production (12)

[1] Suppliers are risk-assessed based on geographic location, business relationship, commodity and past audit performance.
[2] Suppliers of logistics, call centers and packaging, among other commodities, are included at Dell’s discretion based on operational risk.

Supplier Sustainability Reports

Ensure that Dell's suppliers representing 95% of direct materials spend publish a sustainability report in accordance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or equivalent recognized global framework


In FY18, suppliers representing 90% of our direct materials spend published a sustainability report.

FY18 - 90% of 95%
FY17 - 87% of 95% Percentage of direct suppliers with GRI reports

Responsible Consumption and Production (12)

Water Risk Mitigation Plans

Require a five-year responsible water risk mitigation plan from our top 250 direct materials supplier facilities in water-stressed regions or with water-intensive processes


Through FY18, 150 of our supplier facilities in scope have submitted five-year water risk mitigation plans. In FY18, 110 projects — ranging from water efficiency to water reuse improvements — were implemented by suppliers. These projects reduced the amount of wastewater generated by 2.4 million cubic meters and saved over 815,000 cubic meters of freshwater.


supplier-facilities with water risk mitigation plans

FY18 - 150 of 250
FY17 - 100 of 250 Cumulative number of facilities with water risk mitigation plans

Responsible Consumption and Production (12)