Innovation isn't limited to traditional technology at Dell. We're examining the impact of every step of a product's life cycle to determine what we can improve. This includes the packaging your product arrives in.

Dell has explored using agricultural waste and creating packaging greenhouse gas emissions to make packaging - and now we're even growing it.
Mushroom Packaging
As we strive to deliver zero-waste packaging, nature provides an excellent template. By growing (yes, growing) cushions made from mushrooms, we are using a material that is sustainably sourced and certifiably compostable. We piloted mushroom cushioning in server shipments in FY13, but need additional testing before introducing it as a widespread alternative to existing expanded polyethylene cushioning. The mushrooms are grown in engineered molds to create the cushions, so the process is by nature less automated than that of creating plastic cushioning. This presented some hurdles in terms of continuity in supply and material cost, but developments in manufacturing combined with recent testing have put us on track for a FY16 re-introduction of mushroom-based server cushioning.


Challenge  Solution  Benefit 
Challenge: Solution: Benefits:
Find a green alternative for
packaging and cushioning
for heavy products.
Grow it. Use recently
developed mushroom
biotechnology to grow the
protective cushions needed
for the shipment of high-tech
products instead of using
petroleum-based materials.
A sustainable, green
alternative that is also
compostable.

An evolution

The mushroom bioscience is based in using common agricultural waste products. Cotton hulls, rice hulls or wheat chaff are placed in a mold and injected with mushroom spawn. Five to ten days later, the mushroom root structure completes its growth, having utilized the energy inherent in the agricultural waste instead of external energy sources like petroleum. The final product looks and acts like Styrofoam — only this is organic, biodegradable and can be used as compost or mulch, which makes for easier and more environmental-friendly disposal.
Evolution

Our philosophy

Mushroom and bamboo packaging is an extension of our Three C’s philosophy:

  • Cube — Reduce the size of our boxes.
  • Content — Make the materials we use in packaging eco-friendly.
  • Curb — Make our packaging materials curbside recyclable.

Sometimes, a business idea can have a major social impact. Here, Dell is furthering our progress by finding a new, sustainable packaging material that leaves an environment-friendly legacy.