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Dell upgrades to waste-free packaging

Global IT company Dell is stepping up its environmental efforts by setting itself a 100% waste-free packaging stream by 2020.

“Packaging is often the first part of our products that customers see and touch. From that first interaction, we want to ensure our customers know we’re dedicated to operating in an environmentally responsible manner, and we want to make it easier for them to be sustainable as well,” said Oliver Campbell, director of packaging procurement, Dell.

To achieve its new goals Dell says that it will ensure that 100% of its packaging is sourced from sustainable materials and that materials used are also either recyclable or compostable. Currently, more than half of Dell’s packaging meets both these criteria.

A new way the company is tackling the issue is through the use of a new sustainable material - wheat straw - in many of its cardboard boxes for notebooks originating in China. Many Chinese farmers currently treat this byproduct of wheat harvesting as waste and burn it for disposal, contributing to air pollution and associated health issues. Beginning this August, Dell will incorporate the straw in its boxes, starting with 15% by weight and ramping up as operations scale. The remainder of the box will primarily come from recycled content fibre.

Dell estimates initially it will use 200 tons of wheat straw per year, sourced from farmers in the Jiangsu Province. This move could alleviate 180 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Last year, Dell achieved the goals set out in its 3Cs (cube, content, curb) packaging strategy by: reducing the size of packaging more than 12%, increasing the amount of recycled and renewable content in packaging up to 40%, and ensuring that up to 75% of packaging is recyclable at curbside. This work eliminated more than 20m pounds of packaging material and saved $18m since 2008.

Dell | Global | Recycling

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