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Leon Kaye headshot

Dell Launches World’s First Ocean Plastics Supply Chain

By Leon Kaye

Today, Dell announced that it will work with several of the world’s leading brands to develop what it describes as the world’s first commercial-scale, ocean-bound plastics supply chain. Companies like Adidas might quibble with that claim, but we see it as good news all around.

Beyond simply collecting plastic, this program includes an education program that seeks to heighten awareness about the dangers plastic impose on oceans and marine life. In addition, each company participating in this initiative, named NextWave, has pledged to reduce its plastic footprint while reducing or eliminating consumption of single-use and non-recyclable plastics.

Brands participating in NextWave include General Motors, Herman Miller, Interface and Trek Bikes. UN Environment and the NGO Lonely Whale are also participating in this initiative.

For Dell, this program builds upon the several years of work it has invested in creating more sustainable and recyclable packaging, as well as striving to achieve a more closed-loop system within its supply chain.

On its own web site, Dell has projected statistics that suggest over 86 million tons, or 5 trillion pieces of plastic, are currently in the world’s oceans. Estimates suggest about 8 million tons of plastic waste wash up in oceans – an amount that could increase to 150 million tons by 2025. By mid-century, there could be more plastics in the world’s oceans than fish.

The organizations coalescing around the NextWave initiative suggest that if their plan succeeds, they could prevent 3 million pounds of plastics from entering the oceans by 2023 – the equivalent of eliminating 66 million water bottles from ending up at sea. That is a relatively small drop in the morass of ocean plastic that is ruining oceans, but if similar efforts can continue to launch worldwide, marine ecosystems may actually stand a chance in the long run.

Dell says the origin of this program lies into the relationship it developed with Lonely Whale back in 2015. That partnership eventually led to an ocean plastics recycling program the company started in February. For that pilot project, salvaged ocean plastic has been blended with other recycled plastic resins to mold trays used for shipping. The company concluded that during 2017, this program will prevent 16,000 pounds of plastic from entering oceans.

These programs are additional steps Dell says is it taking with a goal to only use 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2020. According to the company, Dell is the only computer hardware manufacturer to offer computers and monitors made out of both recycled e-waste plastics and carbon fiber.

The organizations participating in NextWave insist their cooperation can help move industry closer to a circular economy.

“I am so proud to see our partnership with Dell continue to grow and inspire companies across industries to use their capabilities to address ocean health,” said Adrian Grenier, founder of Lonely Whale. “This is no individual company’s problem; this impacts every human being and company, and it is incredible to see these industry leaders coming together.”

Image credit: Dell/Flickr

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye