Material & Resource Use
EMC's sustainable packaging program seeks to maximize environmental benefits across the product lifecycle. We look at inbound packaging from our suppliers, packaging used to transport products between EMC® manufacturing facilities, and outbound packaging to our customers. We collaborate to identify opportunities, generate ideas, and implement projects that reduce environmental impact and cost. Our strategy focuses on two key areas: design and use.
Packaging design impacts material consumption, GHG emissions from transport, waste, and recycling streams. Because of the high volumes of material we ship, seemingly small adjustments in the size, weight, and material makeup of packaging can have significant impacts. Of course, our highest priority must always be protecting our products, and we note that the environmental and financial impact of replacing damaged products would outweigh the benefits from environmentally improved packaging.
Using Less Material
We call the practice of balancing product protection with smaller, lighter packaging “right-sizing.” We continually seek to design packaging that maximizes performance using the minimal amount of material. “Right-sized” packaging can reduce material consumption and GHG emissions from transportation. For example, in 2012 we changed the packaging for shipping disk array enclosures (DAEs) from our manufacturing plant in Ireland, to our configure-to-order partner in Brazil. Originally, we shipped six DAEs per pallet in virgin packaging. After re-assessing our packaging and processes, we are shipping 24 DAEs per pallet in reused packaging. As a result, we are reducing associated CO2e by 55 percent (including from transport), waste by 71 percent, and costs by 47 percent.
Using the Right Materials
EMC also actively seeks to incorporate recycled and renewable material in our own packaging designs.
|Packaging Material Objective||Example|
|Recycled Material||A clamshell pack for shipping disk drives, one of our highest volume packages, is made of 50 percent recycled content.|
|Recyclable Material||In Massachusetts, our waste management provider picks up our corrugated cardboard and sells it back to our packaging supplier. That material is then put through a milling procedure and reprocessed into new liner board. That liner board is then used in new packaging, including packaging for EMC.|
|Renewable Material||In 2012, we fully implemented bamboo cushioning for 2.5-inch form factor drives, replacing polyethylene foam. Bamboo fiber material is not only renewable—it is also compostable to ASTM, BPI, and EN 13432 standards.|
Eleven percent (by weight) of our packaging in 2012 was recycled content material. In addition, EMC packaging is free of polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs), and we have eliminated the use of polyurethane in all new package designs since 2009.
In 2012, we identified a material that can reduce energy consumption in product transport and the recycling process. We engaged a team of students from the Net Impact chapter at the International Business School of Brandeis University, who compared foam we currently use to two other types of foam. The team compared each material’s technical properties, size, and weight when used in a package, availability of recycling services, and energy consumption in the recycling process. Their final recommendation was to shift to foam that will support smaller and lighter package designs, is as easily recycled as the foam we currently use, and consumes less energy in the recycling process. In 2013, we will evaluate this foam for use in select packaging designs.
In 2012, EMC released an updated packaging specification for suppliers with expanded sustainability requirements. This specification applies to inbound and outbound packaging, and requires our suppliers to:
- Use a minimal amount of material required to comply with all other requirements (right-size)
- Re-use packaging through tiers of the supply chain when possible
- Select packaging materials according to EMC’s Material Preference List, which identifies materials that are preferred, permissible, urged to avoid, or prohibited
In 2012, we held a Sustainable Packaging Summit, convening suppliers with EMC engineers and supply chain management. The objective was to promote innovative packaging that is environmentally responsible and financially sensible and increase collaboration across EMC’s value chain. In addition to sharing best practices, we are exploring several ideas suggested at the summit. They include investigating new materials for shipping pallets, implementing more reusable packaging across the supply chain, and developing benchmarks for space utilization in packaging for select high-volume parts.