- Dell has gone beyond its initial goal to use 50 million pounds of "sustainable materials" such as recycled plastic and carbon fiber by 2020, according to its annual sustainability report. The company has now doubled that goal to use 100 million pounds of this by 2020.
- The company plans to source more of this material from marine plastic as part of a commitment announced by CEO Michael Dell to coincide with the recent U.N. Ocean Conference. That will entail a tenfold increase in its current usage by 2025. A pilot project will use 16,000 pounds of this material to make packaging trays for a new laptop model.
- Over the past year, Dell also increased activity in its closed loop plastics supply that sources material from electronics take-back programs. During the 2017 fiscal year Dell used 5.4 million pounds of this material, an increase from 3.4 million pounds the previous year, and now includes it in 91 products.
This report marks another year of growth for Dell's "Legacy of Good" sustainability program, which also included continued progress toward its electronics recycling goals and new examples of device take-back efforts. As a member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Dell has become well-versed in popular circular economy phrasing about a future in which "nothing is thrown 'away' because waste is designed out and materials get reused." By pledging to use more recycled content in their products and working to encourage other companies to source ocean plastics as well, they have become one of the more vocal electronics companies on this issue.
Dell has also been among companies that experimented with alternative packaging made from mushrooms, bamboo and a range of other natural materials. While these concepts are becoming more commonly used for shipping materials and other forms of internal packaging, few have become fully marketable for standard retail goods. In many stores the use of multi-layer flexible packaging is on the rise, creating headaches for recyclers and frustrating environmental advocates.
This is part of a broader conversation around packaging in general as it pertains to marine pollution, with plastic bottles, food wrappers and plastic bags ranking among the most commonly found litter in the world. Dell spokesperson and recently appointed U.N. goodwill ambassador Adrian Grenier has become a leading figure in anti-plastic campaigns, with a recent focus on straws. As evidence continues to mount about the scale of marine plastic pollution many now agree that limiting future use is of similar importance to finding new products uses for the material that is being collected.