Dell announce wheat straw packaging boxes
Computer manufacturer Dell have announced that they intend to incorporate wheat straw into their packaging, in an effort to achieve 100% waste-free packaging by 2020. Now before all wheat allergy sufferers throw their hands up in horror, it may not be a problem in reality.
Dell's sustainable packaging initiative aim is to ensure that 100% of their packaging is sourced from sustainable materials, including recyclable or rapidly renewable content. And to ensure that 100% of all packaging is recyclable or compostable at the end of its life. Currently the company is more than 50% towards this goal.
As part of this strategy the company are using wheat straw in its cardboard boxes for products originating in China. This is because Chinese farmers burn wheat straw for disposal, which contributes to air pollution, so re-using it will reduce this environmentally harmful process.
Initially only 15% wheat straw will be used, but this percentage will be ramped up over time. The remainder of the box will be from recycled content. Wheat straw will be pulped using a low energy, low water enzyme process to "digest" the material. The resulting pulp is mixed with other recycled fibre to create the new packaging.
Dell says that the boxes will still look and perform the same as regular cardboard, and they will be completely recyclable at disposal.
While this is an interesting way to make packaging more sustainable, it does raise the issue of whether this will this affect people with wheat allergies. Okay, so I know that we don't usually eat the boxes, but we do touch them. Will other manufacturers, maybe of food products, also make this move? Perhaps the enzymatic process removes all traces of wheat protein, it's not something that has been reported on yet, so it may not actually be an issue to worry about after all.
... but I guess that we shouldn't chew on boxes anymore just in case.