Dell’s green packaging drive mushrooms

Dell is piloting the use of mushrooms in product packaging using a novel bioscience method which utilises agricultural waste products.

With this method, cotton hulls, rice hulls or wheat chaff are placed in a mould and injected with mushroom spawn. From this, a mushroom root structure results, creating a texture similar to Styrofoam.

The final product is not only organic, but biodegradable and can be used as compost or mulch. Dell anticipates using it in ‘cushion’ packaging for its server multipacks before rolling it out to other products.

Details of the innovation were revealed by Dell’s procurement director Oliver Campbell on the company’s website. Writing in a blog, Campbell said the material innovation would allow shipment of its products in a more sustainable way.

“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,” he said.

According to Campbell, mushroom packaging could become “a great complement” to the company’s bamboo packaging program which began 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,” he added.

In recent years Dell has made great progress on the sustainable packaging front. It has adopted a policy ‘the three C’s’ where focus is placed on the cube (reducing the size of it boxes}, the content (which consists of what materials are used inside the box) and curb (using materials convenient and acceptable for local recycling services).

The company aims to eliminate about 20 million pounds of packaging material from its shipments by the end of this year.

It is also cutting desktop and laptop packaging by around 10%, increasing sustainable content in cushioning and corrugate packaging by 40%, and ensuring 75% of its packaging components are recyclable at the kerbside within this timeframe.

Maxine Perella

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