Green Packaging and Shipping

Packaging protects products. Shipping gets them where they need to go. Simple enough, but both can leave a substantial environmental footprint when you’re shipping roughly a product per second around the world like we do. We follow a "3Cs" strategy around reducing our impact through the cube (the box itself), the content (what it's made of) and the curb (how easy it is to recycle).

At Dell, we see green packaging and product delivery as an opportunity for innovation — helping businesses and homes reduce their waste through:
  • Creative packaging design: Reduce the size of the box and you get more boxes in the same space for shipping. Put more products in one box — like we do using our Multipack for some orders — and there’s less waste overall.
  • Innovative materials: We pioneered the use of natural materials in our packaging, like our bamboo and mushroom cushions, our new wheat straw initiative and our AirCarbon bags. We also make it easy for customers to recycle the packaging they do receive. We're also pulling plastic waste from our oceans and recycling those materials into our products.
  • Better logistics: Shifting many international shipments from aircraft to ocean freight is just one example of how our work, to constantly refine our transportation network, delivers better ways for getting products to you safely and with a minimal footprint.
At the end of FY15, approximately 66 percent (up from 58 percent the previous year) of Dell shipments use packaging that is 100 percent sustainably sourced.

Creative packaging design reduces size
Creative packaging design reduces size

As part of Dell’s packaging strategy, we streamline the size of our boxes and cushions in order to reduce overall packaging volume. Smaller boxes means more Dell products per shipment, which translates to fewer emissions generated per product shipped and ultimately, less waste for you.
Additionally, we created Multipack for times when you place large orders of certain products like servers, notebooks or desktops. By combining multiple items in one box, Multipack significantly reduces the amount of cardboard you’re left with — cutting the number of boxes by as much as 90 percent. Learn more about Dell’s Multipack packaging solution.

Innovative materials are greener, easier to recycle
Our packaging engineers draw inspiration from nature, looking to the materials and processes that are renewable and self-sustaining. This includes a focus on finding the right material in the right region for the right product. It also means making it easy for you to recycle packaging when you’re done with it.Content: Use recycled and sustainable materials
Dell was the first technology company to use bamboo cushions to replace foam. The rapidly renewable material is light, strong and grows back at up to an inch per hour. Learn more about our bamboo packaging.

As another sustainable packaging alternative, we continue to investigate the viability of using mushrooms. Mushrooms are proving to be a great packaging alternative. By injecting mushroom spores into a mold with agricultural wastes like cottonseed and rice hulls, we are actually growing cushions that serve as an organic, compostable alternative to Styrofoam. Learn more about our mushroom packaging.

Dell is also the first in the IT industry to introduce carbon-negative packaging, through a partnership with Newlight Technologies, inventor and manufacturer of AirCarbon. Our partnership and pilot project will manufacture protective bags out of plastic made not from oil but from captured carbon emissions that would have otherwise been part of the air. Learn more about our packaging made from captured methane.

Wheat straw is our newest sustainable packaging initiative. We’re using the straw (normally burned as waste) and mixing it with recycled paper fibers to create boxes for notebook and desktop products. This process reduces pollution while using less water and energy than traditional manufacturing. Learn more about our wheat straw packaging.

Better logistics minimize the environmental profile

By continually evaluating our transportation and logistics, we are finding better, greener ways of delivering products to you no matter where you live.
For example, we are increasingly taking advantage of efficient ocean-going cargo containers instead of air freight to cut the amount of fuel needed per product shipped. In fact, our Air-to-Sea initiative helped one of our customers reduce the associated carbon emissions for their shipment by more than 92 percent. We also participate in the EPA’s SmartWay program and expect our carrier partners to as well.Optimizing transportation
To make our shipping efforts even more efficient, we have refined our processes for building pallets and loading trailers, in order to get efficiently used space to load products for shipment. This reduces trips and carbon emissions.

Wheat straw: The next evolution in packaging

Wheat straw: The next evolution in packaging

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FY16 Progress Points 
BulletIncreased the percentage of packaging using sustainable materials to 72 percent, up from 66 percent in FY15 
BulletIn FY16, 93 percent of packaging material by weight was sourced from sustainable materials 
BulletSee the CSR Report highlights 
BulletDownload the FY16 CSR Report 
Corporate Responsibility Report