It’s no secret that plastic is becoming a major problem for the oceans, with the World Economic Forum recently warning that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean is set to outnumber the fish population.
Dell, however has stepped up its efforts to combat this scourge, announcing the technology industry’s first shipment of ocean plastics packaging, the result of an innovative, commercial-scale pilot program. This sees Dell using recycled plastics collected from waterways and beaches in the new packaging tray for its Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, building on Dell’s broader sustainable supply chain strategy. In 2017, the company hopes that its ocean plastics pilot will keep 16 000 pounds of plastic from entering the ocean.
Tp this end, Dell will transition its XPS 13 2-in-1 notebook to ocean plastics packaging beginning April 30, 2017. The company also will include educational information on its packaging to raise global awareness and action on ocean ecosystem health solutions, an area of shared interest between Dell, its Social Good Advocate, Adrian Grenier and the Lonely Whale Foundation. To help ensure the packaging does not end up back in the oceans, Dell will stamp each tray with the No. 2 recycling symbol, designating it as HDPE (which is commonly recyclable in many locations). Dell’s Packaging team designs and sources its product packaging to be more than 93% recyclable by weight so that it can be reused as part of the circular economy.
A deeper dive
The company explained that the ocean plastics supply chain process is made of multiple stages: Dell’s partners intercept ocean plastics at the source in waterways, shorelines and beaches before it reaches the ocean. It then processes and refines the used plastics, mixes the ocean plastic (25%) with other recycled HDPE plastics (the remaining 75%) from sources like bottles and food storage containers. Finally, it molds the resulting recycled plastic flake into new packaging trays and ship the trays for final packaging and customer delivery.
“I have been in supply chain and operations for twenty years, and this is the first time my 10-year-old daughter has gotten excited about what I do,” said Kevin Brown, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Dell. “This new packaging initiative demonstrates that there are real global business applications for ocean plastics that deliver positive results for our business and planet. We look forward to working across industries for broader impact.”
Dell’s pilot program, which has the distinction of being another environmental industry-first, follows a successful feasibility study launched March 2016 in Haiti.
In it for the long run
The company has a long history of incorporating sustainable and recycled materials into its products and packaging. Since 2008, Dell has included post-consumer recycled plastics in its desktops, and as of January 2017, reached its 2020 goal of using 50 million pounds of recycled materials in its products. Increasingly, the company’s focus has been on delivering in a circular way – where materials from someone else’s waste stream can be used as inputs into products and packaging. Dell was the first to offer computers and monitors that contain e-waste plastics and recycled carbon fiber.
In partnership with Adrian Grenier and the Lonely Whale Foundation, Dell has helped to increase understanding of ocean health issues, using virtual reality technology to bring people closer to the issues facing the oceans.
“I am so proud to see the goal of my partnership with Dell fully realized in this program. Not only are we keeping plastics from entering our ocean, but we are also educating consumers and leading by example through developing new and innovative business systems. The health of our ocean affects the health of our families and our communities, this is one example of our collective ability to protect it,” commented Adrian Grenier, Social Good Advocate, Dell.
A recent study reported between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010 alone. In a bid to respond to this crisis, Dell has published a white paper on sourcing strategies and plans to convene a cross-industry working group that will address ocean plastics on a global scale.