When it comes to Dell and bamboo packaging, the company continues to make strides in using the renewable resource in its business.

According to the company’s 2010 corporate sustainability report, the most recent one available, Dell has extended the use of bamboo packaging to include its latest tablet device, the Streak, and a number of Inspiron laptops.

Bamboo is gaining more and more popularity as a sustainable packaging alternative because of its relatively small environmental impact. Bamboo trees can be harvested in about five years after they’ve been planted. That’s much faster than the decades required for hardwoods to grow to maturity. In addition, bamboo plants regenerate quickly after a harvest.

Dell introduced bamboo into its packaging portfolio in November of 2009. The company has used it as an alternative to molded paper pulp, foams and corrugated cardboard. The first Dell products to be packaged in bamboo were the Inspiron Mini 10 and the 10v notebooks.

While it is becoming more and more popular, Dell noted on its website that many municipal recycling programs do not accept bamboo packaging materials. The company said it is working with Georgia-Pacific, Unisource Global Services and Environmental Packaging International “in an effort to certify bamboo packaging for recycling.”

Even if you can’t throw it into the recycling bin, you can take some comfort knowing you can throw it in a compost pile. In fact, Dell’s bamboo packaging has been certified compostable and received ASTM D-6400 certification.

On its website, Dell says it is working with Unisource Global Solutions to ensure that the raw bamboo comes from a forest that follows the Forest Stewardship Council’s principals and criteria. The bamboo forest that supplies Dell is located in China’s Jiangxi Province, several thousand miles away from that nation’s protected panda habitat.

The bamboo packaging is part of Dell’s overall environmental strategy. The corporate sustainability report states that since 2008, the company has eliminated more than 18.2 million pounds of packaging material. Over the same course of time, the company has increased the amount of recycled material included in its packaging to 32 percent. That’s a 40 percent increase over 2008 levels, the report says.

About 57 percent of the packaging can be recycled, Dell says on its website. The company hopes to increase that amount to 75 percent by 2012.

"Establishing these packaging goals has transformed my team from great packaging engineers to inspired environmental champions," Oliver Campbell, Dell's senior manager of global packaging, said in a press release. "The progress we've made has kept a lot of materials out of landfills, made responsible packaging disposal easier for customers and is making Dell a more environmentally responsible company."

For more about Dell and bamboo packaging, check out the company's webpage on the subject.

Editor's note: Dell is a Mother Nature Network sponsor.

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Dell and the environment