Why Combating Ocean Plastics is our Business

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Eighteen months ago, I sat in a conference room with my Dell colleagues as Adrian Grenier, our social good advocate, shared his passion for the oceans.  At the time, our general consensus was that “oceans aren’t Dell’s thing.” But the more we learned, the more we realized how wrong we were.

The ocean is the most important regulator of our global climate. It is also the primary food source for more than 3.5 billion people around the globe. So to borrow a line from Ocean Unite, the ocean is everyone’s business.

a beach covered in plastics pulled from the ocean

Last week, Dell attended The Economist’s World Ocean Summit, an annual gathering of top researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government officials, and corporations for the purpose of finding solutions to ocean issues. At first, attendees were quite surprised to see Dell there.

“You’re here with Dell, as in the tech company?” asked one attendee.  Let me explain.

Dell runs one of the largest global supply chains in the world. As such, we are consumers of plastic. But we’ve also spent a decade finding sustainable alternatives to plastic, such as recycled carbon fiber, post-consumer recycled plastics, bamboo, and wheat straw.

Last month, we hit our 2020 goal of using 50 million pounds of sustainable materials in our products. And we’re 93 percent of the way toward our goal of 100 percent sustainable packaging. So we know a thing about operationalizing and scaling sustainable solutions.

We think we can use a lot of ocean plastic in our supply chain. And we think others could as well.

Quickly the sentiment changed to: “So Dell probably knows more about how to recycle ocean plastics than anyone else in this room.”

We hope that’s the case. It’s why we’ve announced our industry’s first ocean bound plastic packaging pilot for our signature consumer laptop, the XPS 13 2-in-1.  You can learn more about our approach and program in this white paper and video.

ocean plastic packaging (100 percent recycled material, 25 percent from ocean plastics) for the XPS 13 2-in-1.

What Dell has introduced is a good start, but it’s not the complete answer. We need more businesses engaged to address the issue at scale. We must support local infrastructure in key markets with high concentrations of ocean plastic, and we need to make the economics work for everyone. It will be no easy feat, but through collaboration, it is a solvable problem.

We are all consumers and users of plastics. We must also be part of the solution. Join us.

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  • Esteban4env

    I am so proud to have worked on this and even more proud that Dell took this bold action to "do something" about a very real issue. Bravo!

  • PatrickMcD_SB

    I was just in Bali on vacation and it was ‘trash season’… the beaches were covered in plastic pollution that had been swept out of the streets and rivers into the ocean by the daily rain storms. The onshore winds and high tides would bring that plastic back on land, littering the beaches with more trash than I’ve ever seen. To see such a beautiful place destroyed by single-use plastics is such a shame and to imagine this happening all across the world is disheartening. In addition to education, better trash and recycling programs by the local governments and non-plastic alternatives to packaging and other containers, I agree that monetizing the waste will massively reduce the trash in our oceans and other fragile ecosystems. I’m very impressed by companies like Dell that are taking this matter seriously and doing something about it. Way to go!