Dell to use recycled 'ocean' plastics in packaging

Program aims to recycle plastic recovered from beaches and rivers for PC packaging

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Dell to use recycled 'ocean' plastics in packaging The packaging tray for Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 will be made from recycled plastic, 25% of which will come from 'ocean' sources.
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 26, 2017

Dell has announced a new pilot program to use plastics salvaged from water courses and beaches in the packaging for its PCs.

The company will use waste plastic, sourced by its partners and collected from beaches, rivers and shorelines, before it reaches the ocean, for the packaging trays for its Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. The program is aimed to prevent harmful plastics from entering the oceanic ecosystem. Dell predicts that the pilot will prevent 16,000 pounds

"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."

The ocean plastics packaging program will begin at end of April. Dell 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.

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.

Dell's pilot program - an 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. 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.

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