Dell announced the technology industry’s first shipment of ocean plastics packaging, the result of an innovative, commercial-scale pilot program. Dell recycled plastics collected from waterways and beaches for use in the new packaging tray for its Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, building on Dell’s broader sustainable supply chain strategy. In 2017, its ocean plastics pilot will keep 16,000 pounds of plastic from entering the ocean.
Dell has transitioned its award-winning XPS 13 2-in-1 to ocean plastics packaging since 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 percent recyclable by weight so that it can be reused as part of the circular economy.
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 percent) with other recycled HDPE plastics (the remaining 75 percent) 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.
Dell’s pilot program – another environmental industry-first– follows a successful feasibility study launched March 2016 in Haiti. 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 – and continues to be the only – 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. A recent study reported between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010 alone. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy in 2015, as much as 60% of ocean plastics come from Asia – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Indonesia is the biggest contributor of ocean plastics waste in Southeast Asia. Given Asia is where many of Dell’s products are manufactured and where the majority of ocean plastic originates, Dell is exploring sustainable sourcing options across the region. 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.