Dell Greening Its Supply Chain With Bamboo

Dell is falling for bamboo. Having already introduced a computer with a bamboo case, today they’ll begin shipping netbooks with bamboo cushioning, rather than the customary styrofoam and plastic. This is the latest detail in the computer maker’s ongoing plan to green its supply chain.

As the AP points out, bamboo has become a popular choice in the green movement, used in everything from floorboars to t-shirts. That’s thanks to the grass’s natural properties: Not only is it incredibly strong, it grows amazingly fast–up to 24 inches a day. And that makes bamboo one of the most sustainable building materials on earth.

The bamboo comes from China’s Jiangxi province (pretty far from Sichuan, where the pandas dwell, in case you’re wondering). The forest itself is certififed by the Forest Stewardship Council, which monitors growing and working conditions.

The packaging itself is pulped without chemicals by Unisource Global Solutions, which has also invented a system to recapture the water used in the process. Apparently it’s cheaper than regular paper pulp. This move might be slightly ahead of its time: The bamboo can’t be recycled yet. However, Dell is working to certify the bamboo for recycling with corrugated cardboard, and they expect the clearance to come in the first half of 2010. Afterwards, the bamboo cushions will start making their way into more of the packaging that Dell produces.