SEATTLE — Bamboo has sprouted all over. It’s being used everywhere from floorboards to tableware to in-line skates and T-shirts, as consumers increasingly seek out products considered gentler on the Earth.
Now, computer maker Dell Inc. is using the fast-growing member of the grass family as a replacement for paper, plastic and plastic foam packaging materials.
Starting Tuesday, the moulded cushions that protect two of Dell’s computer models from damage during shipping will be made of crushed bamboo. Dell’s bamboo comes from China’s Jiangxi province, which the company points out is far from the grazing grounds of the endangered giant panda.
Dell said the forest is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an international organization that makes sure the bamboo isn’t genetically modified or grown with hazardous pesticides.
The council also sets standards for working conditions and tracks the bamboo from the forest to the delivery of finished packaging at Chinese contract manufacturers that put new Dell computers into boxes.
The downside of being early at this: Many municipalities don’t yet recycle the bamboo material. For now, people who order the Dell Mini 10 and Mini 10v netbooks, the first to ship with the new packaging, will have to toss the cushions into the trash.
Campbell said the company is getting the packaging certified as recyclable.