Greener Packaging for ICT Gear

Manufacturers are working to improve ICT gear's packaging, as shown in this post. These efforts can be undermined by shippers, as in our latest example. One the plus side, Dell continues to get recognition for its use of ocean plastics in packaging.

I recently ordered a cable management accessory, attached to a single card. Amazon shipped me the item in a box I calculate to be 4400% the volume of the item, itself. This excessive packaging greatly increased the carbon footprint of the item, because fewer items fit in each plane and truck.

ICT gear has relied heavily on polystyrene foam packaging, often called 'styrofoam'. Polystyrene is essentially non-biodegradable and rarely recycled. Creative alternatives are beginning to emerge.

Dell has a pilot project to recycle waste plastic from oceans. "... we are creating the first commercial-scale global ocean-bound plastics supply chain. We are processing plastics collected from beaches, waterways and coastal areas and using them as part of a new packaging system for the XPS 13 2-In-1 laptop globally. This initial pilot project will start by keeping 16,000 pounds of plastics out of the ocean...Dell mixes the ocean-bound plastics with other recycled HDPE plastics in a 1:3 ratio...The resin is made entirely from recycled-content plastics, 25% being ocean plastics...The mix is then molded into trays that get stamped with the illustration and the #2 recycling symbol."

The United States Environmental Protection Agency gave Dell an Honorable Mention Cutting Edge Champion Award in its 2017 Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge. "Dell is receiving an Honorable Mention award for creating the first commercial-scale global ocean plastics supply chain by upcycling ocean waste into viable products rather than allowing the plastics to break down or become too contaminated to be reusable.
...Dell is commended for its commitment to: create jobs for recyclers; find a cost-competitive way to use oceans plastics; provide a template for others to follow; and increase the scalability of the project by expanding partnerships with processors, NGOs, and government officials."

Dell's program also won an Eco-Design and Sustainable Technologies Award at CES 2018.


I recently purchased an EPEAT Gold monitor made by Dell and shipped to my office by Amazon. The monitor arrived in perfect shape, despite no styrofoam. Not only did the cardboard packaging protect the components well, but its design is a visual treat.

BTW, we previously reported on a company that makes computer housings out of cardboard.

More on greener ICT packaging.