Dell’s Devil in the Details

Mushroom packaging

by | Jun 6, 2013

Mushroom packagingWe’re looking forward to hearing the details of Dell’s intriguing new packaging goal. The company has been at the forefront of sustainable packaging innovation, such as its use of cushioning material made from mushrooms, developed by a start-up called Ecovative. So when the company says that its packaging stream will go “waste-free” by 2020, others are sure to take notice.

What does “waste-free” mean? Dell says all packaging will be either recyclable or compostable at end of life, and all will be sourced from either recycled, rapidly renewable or sustainable materials. It says over half its packaging currently meets the criteria. But the company’s announcement did not define what “sustainable materials” are, leaving it a good deal of wiggle room.

The value of compostable materials is also debatable, since these materials must usually be broken down in industrial composting facilities that are rare in the US. To its credit, Ecovative says that its mushroom materials are home-compostable – though its website doesn’t mention any certification to back up that claim. Dell could burnish its credentials by starting to make these distinctions and define its terms.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Picture credit: Ecovative (

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