Speedy sustainable packaging innovations don’t have to cost you more

By Lisa McTigue Pierce in Sustainable Packaging on February 03, 2016

For your sustainable packaging projects, do you struggle to introduce innovation and stay on schedule and on budget? Think you can’t have it all? Well, maybe you can.

Oliver Campbell, director, worldwide procurement and packaging engineering at Dell, lives the dream of helping develop innovative sustainable packaging for the company’s computers and accessories. He’ll be speaking on Wed. morning, April 13, at SustPack 2016 (Apr. 11-13; Chicago) on the role packaging plays in ecommerce and emerging tech.

Campbell explains why this is so important to do. Learn more from him by attending his “Sustainable Packaging Innovation at More Speed and Less Cost” presentation at this dynamic conference.


Oliver Campbell


Why do brands need to innovate faster in the sustainable packaging area? 

Campbell: Customers and regulators are requesting more sustainable packaging as part of a broader global shift to reduce environmental footprints across-the-board. The brand owners that get there first with new options that offer more benefits will have a competitive advantage.

Innovation is key to staying a step ahead, which is where Dell plans to continue to be. We all need to do as much as we can, as fast as we can to drive the shift to a more sustainable economy.


How can they manage costs at the same time they innovate faster?  Don’t innovation and speed usually add costs anyway?

Campbell: Generally, you can do both: manage costs with well-defined processes and drive innovation with a culture that supports it. We’ve worked hard over the years to put those in place and each business will need to address this individually based on their own dynamics.

At Dell, we’re specific about the areas we want to target and what success looks like, outlined in the Dell 2020 Legacy of Good Plan. We have a variety of innovation tools from Design Thinking to Open Innovation sessions to help generate ideas. And alignment on plans and investments, both internally and with our suppliers, seems to occur naturally and quickly at Dell. In fact, over the past several years we’ve saved more than $50 million through sustainable packaging innovation. So when done the right way, there’s no reason more sustainable packaging can’t reduce cost.


Can you give us a recent example of how you did this at Dell?

Campbell: Our flat panel monitors are starting to incorporate molded paper pulp as the cushion instead of foam or folded corrugate. The project started with a cross-functional innovation session to see how we could improve cushion performance; reduce, if not eliminate, the foam; lower cost; and improve manufacturability. Suppliers worked closely with us and the development time was about a year. More details on Dell sustainable packaging are at www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/dell-environment-packaging-and-shipping.


Dell is already using bamboo and mushroom-based cushioning. Why do you need a third sustainable option?

Campbell: Don’t forget we also use carbon-negative plastic and wheat straw in our packaging too.The innovation cycle needs to be ongoing to help ensure sufficient supply options, to continually improve and to help us reach our goal of delivering waste-free packaging by 2020. It’s generally better to have more options to provide more agility.



Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at WestPack 2016, Feb. 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.


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