How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging

At Dell, the sustainability team, working with suppliers and recyclers, has developed new compostable packaging materials made from bamboo and mushrooms. As John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist, says, β€œIt’s absolutely amazing.”

John Pflueger, principal environmental strategist at Dell

Sustainability as a domain is moving in the direction of "materiality" — information that is relevant or "material" from the point of view of stakeholders and investors. And Dell, the computer and technology company, is working to make itself well-positioned to make the link between its initiatives and outcomes.

"We report into the global marketing organization," says John Pflueger, principal environmental strategist for Dell. "That may sound weird to some people, but I actually think it's a fantastic place for a sustainability organization to sit."

Prior to his current role, Pflueger, who graduated from MIT with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, was Dell's subject-matter expert on data center energy efficiency and power consumption. In his current role, he has umbrella oversight over a wide range of environmental issues, including energy efficiency, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, material selection use, issues around waste and recycling and product take-back, and water and water use and management. (Follow Pflueger on Twitter at @JCPAtDell)

In a conversation with Nina Kruschwitz, editor and special projects manager for MIT Sloan Management Review, Pflueger talks about how Dell is organized for sustainability, how sustainability initiatives have encouraged collaboration and innovation and how the company came up with cool new packaging materials in the process.

So let's talk about packaging. Dell has been an innovator there.

Yeah, we've got a great subject-matter expert who runs our packaging group and he's very interested in sustainability-related topics, very personally motivated. So he started looking for different alternatives for packaging, and he found a company in China that was interested in seeing if you could use bamboo fibers in the same way you use paper fibers today for cardboard packaging. Bamboo is native to China and it's one of the fastest growing plants in the world. It's a very renewable resource.

They experimented with the material, and they actually found a way to use bamboo as a raw material for manufacturing packaging. Now, I don't think we use it on any of our big systems, but right now, 70 percent of notebooks ship in bamboo. Its structural strength makes it great for shipping our high-tech products.

This followed a few high-level principles that we wanted to put into place.

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7 Comments On: How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging

  • Green Business: Dell & Materiality - Kayak Media NJ | July 19, 2012

    [...] Via MIT Sloan Management Review: How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging [...]

  • Weekly Recap: Dell in the News – July 20th edition | Laptop Landing | July 20, 2012

    [...] How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging MIT Sloan – July 17, 2012At Dell, the sustainability team, working with suppliers and recyclers, has developed new compostable packaging materials made from bamboo and mushrooms. As John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist, says, “It's absolutely amazing.” [...]

  • anumakonda.jagadeesh | July 24, 2012

    Congratulations DELL for your concern for Eco friendly technologies which are sustainable.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

  • New environmentally friendly packaging made from bamboo and mushrooms « Sustainable and Fashionable | August 2, 2012

    [...] full interview is available on the MIT Sloan Management Review website. Share this:Share Pin ItPrintEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  • Lessons from Dell's Bamboo Packaging Story | New Leaf | September 12, 2012

    [...] this interview (How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging) by MIT Sloan Management Review, John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist for Dell, talks [...]

  • Mark kenin | April 3, 2014

    Thanks for putting more effort towards creating an environment for sustainable and eco balanced packaging. Nice post.

  • 5 Packaging Predictions for 2014 | TiaMart Blog | July 9, 2014

    […] be the banner yr for plant-based mostly packaging. Outstanding corporations like Coca-Cola and Dell have already made a splash with their sugar cane-based mostly PET bottle and bamboo protecting […]

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