SAN FRANCISCO Dec 15 (Reuters) - Dell Inc DELL.O on Monday announced a new initiative aimed at eliminating 20 million pounds of packaging material over the next 4 years.
Environmental groups have long called on companies to change the way they ship products, urging the use of more sustainable materials and more efficient practices.
The world's No. 2 computer maker said it plans to cut desktop and laptop packaging materials by around 10 percent, increase recyclable content in cushioning and corrugate packaging by 40 percent and make 75 percent of packaging components curbside recyclable by 2012.
Reducing packaging material also creates smaller boxes and fewer shipments, cutting carbon emissions from transportation.
Although the expected cost savings from the initiative are small - only around $8.1 million over four years - Dell said "green packaging" will be a focus going forward.
"We view this as a first step," said Oliver Campbell, Dell's senior manager of global packaging.
Dell has been very vocal about its plan to become the greenest IT company around, and the PC maker's practices are constantly being scrutinized.
Earlier this year, on Earth Day, Dell came under fire by some bloggers for its packaging. The company responded and vowed to improve.
Campbell said the real challenge lies in devising better, more eco-conscious ways to cushion products for shipment.
Dell will use a variety a novel cushioning methods, including molded pulp made out of recycled paper and inflatable air bags that are curbside recyclable in Europe. The company also will employ high-density polyethylene thermal-formed cushions, which can be made from recycled milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.
Dell said it's the only major computer maker with a global packaging reduction target for desktops and laptops. Rivals Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) also like to tout their green credentials, and environmental policy seems to have become a new area of competition between the three.
Shares of Red Rock, Texas-based Dell closed at $11.13, down 35 cents, or 3 percent. (Reporting by Gabriel Madway; editing by Carol Bishopric)