Dell Plans Pilot to Ship Products in Mushroom Packaging #Fortunegreen

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The power of green drives our sustainable packaging strategy.  Today
we're excited to announce the latest material innovation that allows shipment
of some of our products in a earth friendly way.  Harvesting and using
this organic material is being praised in the media and its story is one you
will hear much about in the coming months. Dell's
is announcing the beginning of a pilot for mushroom
based packaging

While it sounds unusual  this is an advanced
biotechnology, that has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the US EPA, and the USDA, among
others, as a way to utilize common agricultural waste products such as cotton,
rice, and wheat chaff to replace styrofoam and polyethylene used as
cushioning for packaging and other applications.  We've tested the
mushroom cushioning extensively in the lab to ensure it meets our same high
standards to safely protect our products during shipment – and it passed like a
champ.  Now we're ready to take the next step and we're proud that Dell is
the first technology company to start pilot shipments.  The initial pilot
shipments will be for the PowerEdge R710 server in the Multipack packaging configuration.  Four systems fit in one box
which dramatically reduce packaging material.  For our customers the
reduced number of boxes Multipack provides makes it easier and faster for them
to deploy their servers.  The combination of Multipack and Mushroom
cushioning make for a super green solution. And best of all, the organic based
mushroom cushions are easily composted after use. 

The mushroom cushioning is unique because it is grown and
not manufactured in the traditional sense.  The process works like
this.  Waste product like cotton hulls are placed in a mold which is then
inoculated with mushroom spawn.  Our cushions take 5 – 10 days to grow as
the spawn, which become the root structure – or by the scientific name, mycelium
– of the mushroom.  All the energy needed to form the cushion is supplied
by the carbohydrates and sugars in the ag waste.  There's no need for
energy based on carbon or nuclear fuels.  Now you know why there has been
such interest in mushroom packaging.

Mushroom packaging can become a great complement to our bamboo
packaging program
which we initiated in November 2009.  We
believe mushroom packaging is best suited to our heavier products like servers
and desktops.  Bamboo's characteristics are more suited as a cushion for
notebooks and smartphones. Currently we are shipping approximately half of our
Inspiron line of consumer laptops in bamboo. We are beginning to ship our
Latitude laptops to business customers in bamboo and are also shipping our
Streak tablet, and our Venue Pro smartphone in bamboo.

Over the past several years Dell has made great progress in
developing and delivering packaging solutions that are much more earth friendly
than traditional  packaging of the past. We adopted a policy called the three C's where
we focus on the cube, or reducing the size of our boxes, the content, which
consists of what materials we use inside the box and curb, which focuses on
using materials convenient and acceptable for local recycling services. 

Our goals are aggressive. Dell plans to eliminate about 20
million pounds of packaging material from our shipments by the end of 2012.
We're also cutting desktop and laptop packaging by around 10 percent,
increasing sustainable content in cushioning and corrugate packaging by 40
percent, and ensuring 75 percent of our packaging components are curbside
recyclable by 2012. 

This topic is part of what we’re currently discussing at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference (#FortuneGreen) this week in California. Last week we heard resounding positive feedback from customers, experts and bloggers who participated in our CAP Days event on sustainability.

Oliver Campbell shows off mushroom packaging

#DellCAP Photos and videos by Austin-based

Today’s announcement is just the latest way in which Dell is reinforcing its deep commitment to protecting our customers technology and delivering it in an environmentally responsible way.  That’s the power of green to help our customers do more.

Follow Oliver on Twitter: @Oliver_Campbell

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Oliver Campbell

About the Author: Oliver Campbell

Under Oliver’s leadership, Dell revolutionized the use of circular economy packaging materials through multiple materials’ innovations that have created credible alternatives to single-use plastics. Oliver’s accomplishments have been highlighted in leading publications and he has been honored with several industry innovation awards. He co-founded NextWave Plastics, a consortium committed to creating a commercially scalable supply chain to keep plastics out of the ocean. Oliver holds Bachelor and Master of Engineering degrees from Cornell University and an MBA from The University of Texas.
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