Compostable packaging is shaping up to be the next big trend in sustainable product design. First SunChips rolled out the first 100% compostable chip bag earlier this year, and now Dell has announced that its bamboo packaging, used as cushioning in its laptops and certain netbooks, is officially compostable.
Dell began using the bamboo cushions last year as part of the company’s plan to integrate sustainable packaging into its supply chain. “We previously used oil-based products like styrofoam and polyethylene as cushioning, but we heard from our customers that they were interested in smaller packaging and recycled or organic materials,” explained Oliver Campbell, Dell’s Senior Manager of Global Packaging. The answer, at least in this case, is Forest Stewardship Council-certified mechanically pulped bamboo from China. The fast-growing plant is both strong and light enough for cushioning.
While the bamboo packaging is now American Society for Testing and Materials certified as compostable (meaning that the packaging will compost and biodegrade at a rate comparable to known compostable materials when added to a hot, active compost pile), it isn’t yet recyclable–though the company is working on it. “We already have certification that it is mechanically recyclable,” Campbell said. Eventually, the bamboo packaging will be added to other Dell product lines, possibly starting with monitors.
It’s a no-brainer for Dell–the packaging is cost-competitive, sustainable, and it makes the company look good. So when will other computer manufacturers get the hint?