EMC’s sustainable packaging program seeks to maximize environmental benefits across the product lifecycle. We collaborate to identify opportunities, generate ideas, and implement projects that reduce environmental impact and cost. Our process includes these steps:
- Starting with the sourcing of our product, we collaborate with suppliers on packaging best practices that integrate sustainability into our inbound supply chain.
- We then focus on optimizing the packaging of our finished product for transport, emphasizing “right-sizing” to reduce excess material weights and volumes. This helps us lower costs and fuel consumption, as it allows more product to be loaded into each truck, plane, train, and ship we use to transport our solutions to our customers.
- Finally, we design our packaging with end of life in mind, prioritizing reusability and sustainable materials to drive cost and waste reductions – both for us and for our customers.
We understand that packaging is often the first way our customers experience our product, and our packaging design choices visibly demonstrate our commitment to integrating sustainability into how we do business. In 2014, we will begin managing our packaging sustainability performance even more aggressively, moving toward ambitious new goals for right-sizing and sustainable material use in the packs we design.
Packaging Design Goals
Our highest packaging priority is product protection and – just as different product shapes, sizes, and transportation scenarios require different protective solutions – our sustainable packaging design strategy must be tailored to the needs of each product. With an emphasis on right-sizing and renewable materials, we have set a target to optimize 95 percent of our packs for sustainable design by 2020. We will drive progress toward this target through a “balanced scorecard” approach for our high-volume packs. In 2014, we intend to do the following:
- Right-sizing: We will establish target ratios between pack weight and product weight. We recognize that heavier products often must be protected by heavier packs, and that for lighter-weight products, lighter packs may be practical. Our intention is to make sure that we get the ratio right by limiting the use of excess material wherever possible.
- Sustainable Materials: We will set goal percentages for the renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable content of our packaging designs. While there may not yet be effective substitutes for foams, anti-static envelopes, and other less sustainable materials in some applications, we are implementing a systematic approach focused on more sustainable alternatives. These aim to lower the impacts of our packs both when they are created and at their end of life.
- Balanced scorecard: We will implement a “balanced scorecard” for our volume packs, which will prioritize an adaptable approach to sustainability designed to meet the individual protective requirements of our products.
Balanced Scorecard Criteria & Specifications
|Renewable1 /Recyclable2 /Biodegradable content by weight||75%||90%||99+%|
|Ratio of pack weight to final product ship weight||30%||20%||10%|
By 2020, we want to ensure that every pack we ship in volumes greater than 1,000 per year reaches at least a “3” based on a composite score for the criteria above. For example, if a pack is made up of 75 percent sustainable material (equal to one point), it must also have a pack-to-product weight ratio of no more than 20 percent (equal to two points). If a design’s pack-to-product weight ratio is 10 percent or less (equal to three points), sustainable material content of less than 75 percent is acceptable. The balanced scorecard will allow us to ensure strong performance in terms of sustainable materials and right-sizing, without dictating a one-size-fits-all approach.
Driving Sustainable Packaging Priorities Across the Product Lifecycle
We buy thousands of different components from our suppliers each year, with a diverse array of related packaging. In 2014, we will focus on improving the sustainability performance of our highest-volume inbound packs through collaboration with related suppliers. We multi-source many of the components we purchase, and by promoting “positive competition” between the pack designs different suppliers use for the same part, we are able to drive enhanced right-sizing and sustainable materials performance for packaging in our inbound supply chain.
Packaging Reuse and Reduction between Supply Chain Nodes
We continue to implement cost and waste reductions, and reuse opportunities for the packs that travel between our supply chain nodes.
For example, in 2013, we took a reusable packaging solution that was first developed for our customer-facing operations and implemented it for high-volume shipping between our manufacturing plants. Instead of shipping 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives between our facilities in Massachusetts and North Carolina using cardboard boxes that hold only five drives apiece, we now use heavy-duty, reusable plastic totes that can each carry up to 420 2.5-inch drives or 200 3.5-inch drives. These reusable totes can last 10 or more years before needing to be replaced. This eliminates the cost and waste from more than 29,000 single-use drive boxes, saving over $100,000 and 70 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
We have taken our reusable inter-plant packaging solution one step further at our Center of Excellence (COE) in Cork, Ireland. Until recently, we packed drives at the COE into cardboard boxes and shipped them to a warehouse 15 miles away, where they would be stored until needed for product integration, when they would be shipped back to the COE and unpacked, one box at a time. In 2013, Nelson Award winner Vince Crean implemented a solution incorporating reusable drive transport units, made from recycled product cabinets, which can store up to 390 drives each. The cabinets are stored at the COE, eliminating the need for the external warehouse. Vince’s project has helped eliminate the waste associated with 50,000 single-use boxes each year and reduce carbon emissions from transportation to and from the warehouse – both of which are no longer needed. In addition, the project is saving the company $560,000 each year in costs associated with packaging and labor.
1By “renewable,” we mean made from majority recycled or biologically derived content, by weight.
2By “recyclable,” we mean recyclable at curbside or as part of consumer-accessible waste management infrastructure in a majority of markets in which we do business.